ATLANTA (www.clarkatlantasports.com) As NBA teammates in 1983, Bernard King urged Darrell Walker to pick up art as a cultural side to basketball. It took a little prodding, but Walker, now the Clark Atlanta University men's basketball coach, became an avid art collector.
King, an NBA Hall of Famer, smiled Tuesday, Sept. 12 at the 2nd Annual Darrell Walker Art and Basketball Auction at the Woodruff Arts Center as art, basketball and helping student-athletes all came full circle.
"That really speaks to who Darrell is as a person and what he believes is important in life," King said in Woodruff's Beauchamp Carr Gallery. "I believe the contribution he is making at Clark Atlanta is truly special and you're really lucky to have him. What he has done with his artwork and his collection to help and assist with the program is one of a kind."
The Art and Basketball Auction brought enthusiasts of both disciplines together for an auction of art work where the proceeds go towards providing summer tuition money for CAU basketball players. It allows them to stay on course to graduate. Local and national artists donated pieces to be part of the Auction. Nearly $90,000 has been raised this year.
"It is strictly for these guys to graduate and go into the real world," said Walker, as two of his players, A.J. Williams and Damien Davis, stood next to him. "I know everybody has aspirations to become a professional athlete. I know I did. But I think it's very important that they have that second avenue, and that second avenue is a degree."
Last year's inaugural auction raised enough to send eight players to summer school. This year, Walker hopes to raise enough to allow ten of his players to take summer courses.
In attendance was a number of Clark Atlanta alumni, supporters and members of the professional basketball community, such as former Atlanta Hawks guard Steve Smith and the Hawks' former general manager Billy Knight.
"He's all about positive things for young people," Knight said of Walker. "He's trying to bring about some help at Clark Atlanta and we're being very supportive of him because he's doing good work."
CAU Athletic Director Lin Dawson said the Auction is just another example of why Walker has been such a great example for Clark Atlanta athletes.
"Every day…. he's painting a stroke," Dawson said. "We hired Darrell because we knew his exposure to our young people would do them some good."
Keywords: Darrell Walker, Panther Men's Basketball