The Phoenix Suns lost a star player on the night of October 4. Former center, Neal Walk, who played for the team for the majority of his career (1969 to 1974), passed away at the age of 67. The NBA player survived the removal of a tumor from his spinal cord, which left him in a wheelchair, around 28 years ago, but that was not the cause of his death. Reports are that he was recently in a Phoenix hospital due to other medical reasons, although no details are known at this time.
The official Twitter account for the NBA retweeted a post from Paul Coro, journalist for the Suns, about Walk’s death. The tweet reads, “Former Suns center Neal Walk died tonight at age 67. His career and life in words and photos,” along with a link to a page that chronicles the life of the former basketball player with a series of pictures taken during and after his career on the court.
Despite his successful career with the Phoenix Suns, it was what came afterward that really made Neal Walk shine. Being confined to a wheelchair did not determine Walk’s spirits, as he continued to play wheelchair basketball, and was even honored by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 at the White House with the title, “Wheelchair Athlete of the Year.” What’s more, the Florida basketball program has retired only one jersey to date, and it is his number 41.
The late athlete, who is survived by his wife, Georgia, as well as a brother, once said in 1993, “No matter how a person came across their malady, people with maladies have hearts and souls and feelings, and they’re capable.”
The most famous incident in his life is also the most vital one, where, in 1969, the Suns lost a coin toss to the Milwaukee Bucks for the number one pick Hall of Fame honoree, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And because of this, many feel that Walk lived in Jabbar’s shadow throughout the remainder of his career—after all, he was their second pick.
Paul Coro, Twitter post, October 4, 2015, 9:06 p.m.
Coro, P., “Former Phoenix Suns center Neal Walk dies at 67,” AZ Central web site, October 4, 2015.
“Neal Walk,” Wikipedia web site, last accessed October 5, 2015.