LAS VEGAS — These are highly uncertain times for the San Antonio Spurs.
That’s why former Reading High School standout Lonnie Walker IV might be so valuable.
This is a summer where Spurs legend Tony Parker has already left for Charlotte, where four-time NBA champion Manu Ginobili is going through what now seems like his annual contemplation of retirement and where 2014 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard’s future is most uncertain – both in terms of where he may play next and if his quadriceps injury is healed to the point where he can return to the court.
But Walker IV is a sure thing, and he’s eager to be a part of whatever will be in San Antonio.
“I’ve worked so hard to get to this moment that I can’t not be confident to play against grown men who are older than me,” said Walker, who turned pro after one season with the Miami Hurricanes. “I know day-in and day-out the blood, sweat and tears I put into this game and how great a player I can become.”
He had 14 points in the Spurs’ 95-90 win over the Washington Wizards on Sunday – Day 3 of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, where there was another 10-game slate as the teams progress toward the start of playoffs later this week.
It’s hard to imagine there’s a player in Las Vegas happier with his current lot in life than Walker IV.
He just got his first apartment, a major accomplishment for a kid whose upbringing in Reading, Pennsylvania was often challenging to say the least. In an Instagram post after getting his new place in San Antonio, Walker IV opened up about how hard times were.
“Survival by the fittest was the strategy growing up,” he wrote. “Splitting a cheeseburger for dinner. Chips for breakfast. Not knowing where I will sleep the next day. Living with 10 plus people. Waking up in the middle of the night because your house got shot up. Who would’ve thought at the age of 19. I’m alive and healthy and just got my first apt. Who would’ve thought that this kid from Reading would make it out. No one understands my struggle and my pain.”
Such worries are long gone.
He’s guaranteed to make $5 million in salary over the next two years, has signed a shoe deal with adidas and more than likely will grab a few more endorsements along the way.
In other words, no more splitting cheeseburgers for him. And he hopes his story motivates anyone it reaches.
“To any kid who is trying to become an NBA player or trying to become something in life, I’ve been through it all,” Walker IV said. “You can’t let adversity continue to knock you down. I just want to continue to motivate everyone and believe that they can be happy and be something special.”