How tragedy shaped ASU women's basketball player Eboni Walker's life and play style

The forward brings a consistent level of energy and effort to the court

When Eboni Walker, sophomore and forward for ASU women's basketball, was a child, her father would take her out early on Saturday mornings to drive around and assist people in need. Whether it was giving people spare change, filling up their gas tank, or helping someone put on a tire, Walker’s father wanted to instill the trait of selflessness in his daughter.

While it didn’t seem like much to Walker at the time, it’s something that rubbed off on her and has stuck with her since. Walker’s father, James Walker, died in 2009 in a car accident when she was just seven years old, and she has been shaped by the tragedy ever since.

Walker still holds fond memories of her father and the lessons he taught her.

“He was always worried about making sure that me, my mom, and my brother were okay,“ Walker said. “After that incident, it was never about me anymore. After that, it became, I do what I do for my family. It's a bigger picture now.”

Walker credits her father with instilling in her the trait of selflessness, which she has continued to implement in her life as well as her basketball career.

“I feel that helped me as a basketball player,” Walker said. "I don't do things for me on the basketball floor, I do things for my team, I want us all to win. I don't want it to be about me.”

Walker currently averages 9.7 points and 6.9 rebounds on the season but takes more pride in doing the things on the court that don't show up on the stat sheet. Whether that’s diving on the floor for a loose ball, grabbing a key rebound, or frustrating her defensive assignment, Walker makes her presence felt in every minute she plays.

“A lot of people focus on oh, this person scored this many points, or this person had this many rebounds,” Walker said. “But people don't see this person got on the floor three times to save a possession, or this person boxes out the best rebounder this many times.”

In general, Walker leaves it all out on the court instead of second-guessing what she could have done after the fact, an attitude also inspired by her father.

"He used to say, 'Don't ever think or feel like, oh, I wish I would have done this, oh, I wish I would have done that. Or I should have done this, or I could have done that. Just do it. Just get it done,'" Walker said.

ASU women's basketball head coach Charli Turner Thorne praised Walker's ability to make winning plays.

“(Walker) is kind of a spark plug for us," Turner Thorne said. "She's a very explosive player and she kind of just finds a way and has a real nose for the ball.”

Walker's coach at Centennial High School in Las Vegas, Karen Weitz, echoed Turner Thorne's comments regarding Walker's ability to make hustle plays.

"That kind of evolved to be like her signature trait. Her motor was unlike a lot of kids," Weitz said. "And I think because of that she is around the ball a lot. So, it really comes back to how hard she plays and the effort she gives continuously."

Walker also consistently brings a positive attitude on and off the basketball court, Weitz said.

"She just has a good positive energy that people want to be around, and doesn't really get rattled by much; even if a negative situation happens, she takes it in stride," Weitz said. "(She) just really is an overall positive kid that you don't really find."

Walker's mother, DeloresPrice-Walker, credits her daughter's advanced maturity for her age, in dealing with the tragedy she faced.

"When she lost her dad, it was very hard, but she pulled through by the grace of God to do the things we all did," Price-Walker said. "The girl's always been very smart and very mature for her age. When she was young people thought she was older than how young she was."

Walker is currently studying mechanical engineering, the same career as her father, something she hopes will tie them together forever.

"I'm studying mechanical engineering because I used to work on cars with him," Walker said. "So I felt like that would help me be closer to him. So I just take that much more pride in my education and that pride in my major to just be better and feel closer to him in that way."

Although the tragedy occurred more than a decade ago, Walker continues to live each day for her loved ones with her father's memory in mind.

"I learned so much in every day I spent with him," Walker said. "I'm living for him, living for my family. So that's kind of what drives me now."


Reach the reporter at ltochter@asu.edu and follow @Leo_Toch on Twitter.

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