San Antonio Spurs' Lonnie Walker IV Opens Up About Suffering Childhood Abuse
By Jasmyn Wimbish, CBS Sports
Ronald Cortes/Getty Images, Elsa/Getty Images
Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV took to Instagram Live on Wednesday to show his thousands of followers that he was doing away with his signature hairdo that some have compared to the shape of a pineapple. Many were shocked that he actually went through with it after he asked for input on how he should cut his hair, but a short while later, the former Miami Hurricane shared his new look after growing his hair out since the fifth grade.
However, this was about more than just getting a summer cut before the San Antonio Spurs head to Orlando to finish out the rest of the season in July. Thursday evening, Walker revealed on his Instagram that he began to grow out his hair when he was in the fifth grade as a coping mechanism after being sexually abused as a child.
"The real truth as to why I started doing this early 5th grade, it was a cloaking device for me," Walker wrote in the caption. "During the summer of my 5th grade year, I was around more family. Some [whose] names will be left alone, I was around more. I was sexually harassed, raped [and] abused. I even got accustomed to it, because being at that age you don't know what is what. I was a gullible, curious kid that didn't know what the real world was. 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."
In the video, as friends react to Walker's hair being cut off, the Spurs guard details his hair history from middle school through college. On the night he was selected 18th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft, he went viral on social media after his hat wouldn't fully fit on his head when he went up to shake commissioner Adam Silver's hand. He's become easily recognizable because of his hair over the years, but the decision to cut it off came because, as Walker writes in the caption, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on him mentally.
"As of recently, I wasn't at my best. Previous history popping up in my head, and it sucked mentally. 'Demons'... Because of this virus, I began to truly look at myself in the mirror and see who I truly was, even behind closed doors. Long story short, I have found peace and internal happiness through this journey, God willingly.
I forgave everyone -- even the people that don't deserve it. Why? Because it's dead weight. Time doesn't wait on anyone, so why should I waste my time on it? Me cutting my hair was more than a cut. My hair was a mask of me hiding the insecurity's that I felt the world wasn't ready for. But now better than ever. Out with old. In with the new. I have shed my skin mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Life will always be hard. Gotta play with the cards you're dealt with, and try and make a winning hand. And if you lose. It's never a loss. It's a lesson."
The second-year guard ended his post by saying he would be stepping away from social media while wishing everyone "peace, love and happiness." Walker's agent, George Langberg, said in a statement posted on Twitter that this has been a long journey for his client.
"This is something that Lonnie has been dealing with for some time now," Langberg wrote. "Being able to share this shows tremendous strength and courage, while also lifting a weight off of Lonnie. It is his hope that by opening up, it will help anyone who reads his story that may have been sexually abused in the past, or anyone who may be going through something similar now, to know that they are not alone. Lonnie appreciates the outpouring of support, and appreciates everyone respecting his privacy at this time."
This story was originally published by CBS Sports on June 12, 2020.