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Former central Pennsylvania basketball standout reveals childhood sexual abuse

MICHELLE KAUFMAN
The Miami Herald (TNS)
San Antonio Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV, left, drives to the basket past Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Washington during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, March 3, 2020. San Antonio won 104-103. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Former University of Miami star Lonnie Walker IV chopped off his signature spiked hair this week, sharing a video of the haircut on Twitter with a photo gallery of his many hair styles over the years.

He later revealed on Instagram that the drastic haircut was to help erase painful memories of childhood sexual abuse.

He called his hairdo “a mask” he used to hide his insecurities.

Walker, a native of Reading, Pennsylvania, left UM after his freshman season and was selected in the first round, No. 18 overall, in the 2018 NBA Draft. He led Reading High to a state championship in 2017.

Walker, 21, now a guard with the San Antonio Spurs, wrote to his 72,000 followers: “The real truth as to why I started doing this early 5th grade, it was a cloaking device for me. During the summer of my 5th grade year I was around more family. Some (whose) names will be left alone I was around more. I was sexually harassed, raped, abused. I even got accustomed to it because being at that age, you don’t know what is what.

“I was a gullible, curious kid that didn’t know what the real world was. I had a mind-set that my hair was something that I can control. My hair was what I can make and create and be mine. And it gave [me] confidence.”

He went on to say that the coronavirus crisis led him to do more self-reflection.

“As of recently, I wasn’t at my best,” wrote Walker, who was averaging 5.6 points and 2.2 rebounds before the NBA was suspended in mid-March. “Previous history popping up in my head and it sucked mentally. ‘Demons’... Because of this virus, I began to truly look at myself in the mirror and see who I truly was, even behind closed doors.

“Long story short I have found peace and internal happiness through this journey, god willingly. I forgave everyone, even the people that don’t deserve it. Why? Because it’s dead weight. Time doesn’t wait on anyone so why should I waste my time on it? Me cutting my hair was more than a cut. My hair was a mask of me hiding the insecurities that I felt the world wasn’t ready for. But now, [I am] better than ever. Out with [the] old. In with the new. I have shed my skin mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.”

Walker was asked about his hairdo during the 2018 NCAA Tournament in Dallas, before the Hurricanes’ game against Loyola-Chicago.

Back then, he smiled and replied: “I get that question at least twice a day. I kind of let it grow up by itself. It’s its own person at this point because ever since my freshman year [in high school], it was a regular flat top, then senior year it became its own thing. People have been calling it a pineapple. The student section definitely has fun telling me all the names for it.

“It’s my thing. It defines who I am, just being a different kid. All I can say is, it’s pleasing that other people are truly delighted to look at my hair constantly.”