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Former NBA champ uses art, auction to pay student’s college tuition

Clark Atlanta University’s Men’s Basketball coach Darrell Walker will host the 2nd Annual Darrell Walker Art and Basketball Auction on Tuesday, September 12 to raise funds to offset the cost of summer school for student-athletes.

“Coach Walker raises money for us to graduate on time, so I repay him by working hard in my classes,” said point-guard A.J. Williams. “I took two hard economic classes this summer, and it was paid for with a scholarship from the art auction. It would have been really tough if I had to pay for it myself.”

Williams, who was raised by his single mother, transferred into CAU from a junior college in Brooklyn, N.Y. “I faced a lot of adversities in Brooklyn. Either you are on the streets, or you play basketball. It was a tough place to grow up, but I knew I couldn’t let my mother down,” says the business management major. “Coach Walker is tough on me because we play the same position. But I relate to him. He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for.”

Walker, a former point guard with the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls and former head coach of the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards, won the 2017 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Men’s Basketball Tournament championship in his first year with the Panthers. He recruited Williams in 2016.

Along with his NBA success, Walker has been an avid art collector since early in his NBA playing career. His collection includes more than 80 pieces. “I’m combining my two biggest passions to impact the lives of these young men,” he said. “These aren’t just my players, they are my sons, and leveraging my status to launch their careers is the way I pay it forward.”

Williams, a senior, will graduate Spring 2018 thanks to his efforts. “Coach believed in me, he trusted me and I thank God for him every day.”

The 2nd Annual Darrell Walker Art and Basketball Auction will be held at 6 p.m. on September 12 in the Beauchamp Carr Gallery at the Robert Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta.

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