Downtown

College basketball coach sells his art to help players

August 25, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Caring coach Darrell Walker has helped many of his players, including A.J. Williams, pay their college tuition. Photo courtesy of CAU/Curtis McDowell

Former Knicks guard Darrell Walker raises money for players in need

A kindhearted college basketball coach is teaching his players a lot more than just how to make a three-point shot. Darrell Walker, the men’s basketball coach at Clark Atlanta University (CAU), holds an event each summer that always includes an art auction featuring works from the coach’s expansive art collection. 

The art auction has a special purpose. It raises money for basketball players who need help paying their tuition. 

Walker’s generosity has reached all the way to Brooklyn.

“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, 22, who hails from Brooklyn “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 a single mother, transferred to CAU from a junior college in Brooklyn. 

“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,” said Williams, a 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.”

Under Walker’s guidance, the team won the 2017 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship. 

Williams is entering his senior year and is on track to graduate in the spring of 2018. He credits Walker. “Coach believed in me, he trusted me and I thank God for him every day,” Williams said. 

Walker, graduate of the University of Arkansas, is a former point guard with the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls. He later served as a former head coach of the Toronto Raptors and the Washington Wizards. 

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.”

The coach will host the Second Annual Darrell Walker Art and Basketball Auction on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at the Beauchamp Carr Gallery at the Robert Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta.