• 86°
franklin county times

Walker's presence speaks volumes

By Staff
BIG BUC IN TOWN Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Meridian native Kenyatta Walker signs autographs for kids from the Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi during the Celebration of Excellence ceremonies at the Frank Cochran Center. PHOTO By Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
June 20, 2003
When a 6-foot-5, 302-pound man speaks, people listen.
When a man with those same measurements speaks, while donning a ring the size of a giant jawbreaker with the words "Super Bowl Champion" inscribed on it, people listen even closer.
When the same mammoth man, with the same diamond encrusted gold ring, speaks and he is in his hometown everybody listens.
Kenyatta Walker, who graduated from Meridian High School in 1997, returned to his roots Thursday night with a message for the near 300 people attending the Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi's Celebration of Excellence dinner.
The right tackle on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2003 Super Bowl championship squad came back to talk about the work it took for him to achieve his success and to encourage kids to work hard at every thing they do in their lives.
Walker's words were heard loud and clear at the Frank Cochran Center because of the total package the Bucs' 2001 first-round draft pick brings to the table.
Walker's presence at the evening's festivities to recognize the achievements of the staff and children of the Boys and Girls Club brought an air of excitement to the large meeting room.
The kids flocked around him to get a glimpse of his Super Bowl ring and to get his autograph, as did some of the adults.
But the Queen City football product did not just come home to show off his new jewelry, he came back in hopes of offering some helpful words to the members of the club.
William McNeil, who said he has been friends with Walker for about nine years, said there are few people better suited to help motivate young people than the tackle.
The words from the former NCAA All-American at the University of Florida also carried extra meaning because he was once in the same spot as the young people attending the dinner.
Walker was a member of the Boys and Girls Club, and his first job was with the organization.
The presence and words of a hometown native struck a cord with the kids.
The night didn't just serve as a way for the kids to meet a role model.
The dinner was also used to help raise money for the Boys and Girls Club's summer program.
The meal provided by Outback Steak House cost $100 per plate or $1,000 for a table of 10.
Money raised from the event will go toward purchasing equipment for the club, paying for field trips and meals and to cover the other operational expenses of the organization.
And Walker's appearance was just as sweet as the chocolate icing on the cake that was served for dessert.
Walker said being able to help a group that meant so much to him growing up was a wonderful way to spend an evening.
and clear at the Frank Cochran Center because of the total package the Bucs' 2001 first-round draft pick brings to the table.
Walker's presence at the evening's festivities to recognize the achievements of the staff and children of the Boys and Girls Club brought an air of excitement to the large meeting room.
The kids flocked around him to get a glimpse of his Super Bowl ring and to get his autograph, as did some of the adults.
But the Queen City football product did not just come home to show off his new jewelry, he came back in hopes of offering some helpful words to the members of the club.
William McNeil, who said he has been friends with Walker for about nine years, said there are few people better suited to help motivate young people than the tackle.
The words from the former NCAA All-American at the University of Florida also carried extra meaning because he was once in the same spot as the young people attending the dinner.
Walker was a member of the Boys and Girls Club, and his first job was with the organization.

x