The Tennessee Titans made headlines earlier this month when they signed free agent tight end Delanie Walker, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, to a four-year, $17.5 million contract. While the casual sports fan may be quick to dismiss this as just another football transaction, Walker’s signing actually serves as an inspiring end to an otherwise tragic story.
Just a few months ago, Walker was playing in Super Bowl XLVII at the Superdome in New Orleans, where his San Francisco 49ers squad lost to the Baltimore Ravens in a close matchup. While the loss was difficult, Walker took immediate comfort in the arms of his family, including his beloved aunt and uncle who had come to watch him play.
In the early morning hours after the game, Walker’s aunt and uncle, who were staying in nearby Baton Rouge, left their hotel to start the trip home. A short time later, they pulled over to the side of the interstate where they were stuck from behind at over 100 miles-per-hour by an alleged drunk driver.
Tragically, the sheer force of the collision caused both cars to catch fire, and Walker’s aunt and uncle were later pronounced dead at the scene by law enforcement officials. The driver of the vehicle was subsequently arrested and charged with a multitude of offenses, including two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of driving while intoxicated.
The fatal drunk driving accident has understandably left Walker and his family shaken.
“My auntie was very close to me, ” he said. “They always supported me, so it’s hard.”
Now, Walker is using his loss to help raise awareness about the dangers of car accidents caused by drunk driving. In fact, he has already participated in numerous fundraising efforts for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, including autograph/memorabilia signings and charity walks.
“To be at the Super Bowl, and for my auntie and uncle to come see me and to be killed right after by a drunk driver, it made me open my eyes to people that drink and drive,” he said. “Hopefully this will put something in their minds where if they do go out and drink, do not drive, and that can save somebody’s life, or their own.
Walker’s off-the-field efforts don’t stop here, however, as he is planning on using the funds from his recent contract to help support his eight cousins left behind after the fatal car crash.
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Source: The Tennessean, “Tennessee Titans’ Delanie Walker motivated by tragedy,” Jim Wyatt, March 17, 2013-03-29