San Antonio Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV delivered a powerful testimony on vulnerability, strength, and healing.
The versatile second-year player revealed to the world on Thursday that he had been sexually abused as a child.
The news came in an Instagram post that showed Walker had cut several inches off his unique, impressive hairstyle that he’s been growing since 5th grade in favor of a short cut with a fade and part. Walker said he had been growing his hair since the fifth grade and that it served as a “mask” to hide his insecurities.
“I was sexually harassed, raped, abused, I even got accustomed to it because being at that age you don’t know what is what,” said Walker. “I had a mindset that my hair was something that I can control. My hair was what I can make and create and be mine. And it gave me confidence.”
Walker’s actions are powerful, not only because they show how meaningful hairstyles are in the black community, but because they show the entire world that it’s okay to live out your truth and not hide behind a “cloaking device.”
Oftentimes in the sports world, fans look at these athletes as otherworldly heroes and strip them of their humanity because of their gifts on the field of play. From a young age, athletes are taught to put up a wall and block out anything that doesn’t enhance the facade of the “macho” individual they are supposed to be.
Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan have helped lead the charge in dismantling this ideal when they started normalizing the conversation on mental health in sports. Now, Walker’s words are helping to destroy that stigma even more.
He is giving others inspiration to tell their stories, while also bringing attention to one of the biggest problems in society.
According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center (NSVRC), one out of four girls and one out of six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. These numbers are already shocking and considering the fact that only 12 percent of these cases are ever reported to the police, it seems obvious there is a true problem on our hands.
In Walker’s message, he says that he was around his family more when his abuse started. NSVRC statistics show that 34 percent of child sex abusers are actually family members of the victim.
These crimes committed against these children have proven to have long-lasting effects on some of these individuals. For many, it has resulted in struggles with PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
“I was a gullible, curious kid that didn’t know what the real world was,” said Walker. “As of recently, I wasn’t at my best. Previous history popping in my head and it sucked mentally.”
Walker experienced trauma that no child should ever have to go through. But in his battle to find comfort with himself following these crimes, he’s found something no one can take away from him: his true voice.
He’s sacrificed the comfort of hiding behind his mask and through his actions, he’s inspired others, while bringing attention to a major issue in our country.
“I have found peace and internal happiness through this journey God willingly,” said Walker. “ Me cutting my hair was more than a cut. My hair was a mask of me hiding insecurities that I felt the world wasn’t ready for…. I have shed my skin mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.”