Bill Walton is a basketball legend and most hailed sports personality. He gained fame nation’s top college basketball star at UCLA under legendary coach John Wooden, then played for the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics. Though his success on the court is well-documented yet his off-the-court ordeals remain untold. He used to stammer so badly that he couldn’t even utter the simple word “thank you” till the age of 28. Over half of his NBA career, he had to stay away from the court due to foot disorder led to 39 surgeries on his feet, legs, and back. However, Bill strangely survived all hardships with optimism and courage. Then, he paved his way to the “50 Greatest NBA Players of All-Time” list and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
After leaving his sports career, he is now a broadcaster covering Pac-12 games on ESPN. He has been a modest soul and an inspiration to others. He is overwhelmingly recognized as the finest speaker from the fraternity of sports, equally entertaining and insightful. The basketball court has been a great exposure for him, guiding him throughout his sports, broadcasting, and business careers.
Bill himself took great inspiration from his basketball coach at UCLA, the legendary John Wooden’s words, “Do your best.” Bill always remembered these words, which helped him all his incredible career.
Apart from basketball, he also pursued his dream job as a sports broadcaster after recovering from lifelong stammering affliction.
In 2008, he also underwent risky back surgery to recover from the early damage done during his basketball career. He faced all this ordeal with patience and positivity.
From 1972 to 74, Bill achieved the NCAA Player of the Year Award. Moreover, He is the winner of the Sullivan Award for the United States Best Amateur Athlete of 1973 and a three-time All-American College Player. For three consecutive years, he earned the title of conference player of the year and was entitled to the Pacific 8 All-Conference first team three times.
Bill remained a scholar-athlete at UCLA who also received Academic All-American honors three years. He graduated in history with distinction and also attended Stanford University Graduate School of Law.
Bill’s professional career success started when he was the number one overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft by the Portland Trailblazers. He was a member Portland Trailblazers championship team in 1977. After nine years in 1986, he attained another championship title from the Boston Celtics.
He played for the Trailblazers 1974-1979, the San Diego Clippers 1979-1984, the relocated Los Angeles Clippers in 1985, and The Boston Celtics 1985-1988.
Bill has been the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, 1978; All-NBA First Team, 1978; NBA All-Star Team, 1977 and 1978; NBA Playoff’s MVP, 1977; All-NBA second team, 1977; winner of the NBA Sixth Man Award, 1986.
Bill’s major achievement is being one of only four players in the history of basketball who have won several NCAA & NBA Championships.
Bill has been honored with NBPA’s Oscar Robertson Leadership Awards in 1991. Also selected as one of the NBA’s Fifty Greatest Players of All Time in 1997, and the same year he was selected into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Bill began his broadcasting career as an analyst for the then Prime Ticket Network, soon after the retirement from basketball in 1990. His broadcasting work includes ABC, ESPN, FOX, MSNBC, Turner Sports, KCAL, NESA, and the NBA.
He has also worked in CBS Sports during the early ’90s and then for NBC for many years, including work on the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Summer Olympic Games.
Nominated for several Emmy Awards and won an Emmy for Best Live Sports Television Broadcast in 2001. He has achieved the Best Television Analyst/Commentator Award several times by The Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association.
The American Sportscasters Association has included him as one of the top 50 sports broadcasters of all time.
On June 21, 2001, Bill received the title of the inaugural inductee into the Grateful Dead Hall of Honor. Love of sports is hereditary. By pairing with his brother and then the son Bill has made a unique combination in history.
Bill, and his elder brother Bruce, has played in the Super Bowl and have won an NBA Championship. Bill and his third son Luke are the only father/son pair that have ever won NBA Championships and each won multiple NBA Championships.
He is an active member of many charities and organizations. Bill’s efforts have been acknowledged by giving him NBA Retired Players Association Humanitarian Award. Bill is a board member for the Junior Seau Foundation and executive chairman of Connect SD Sport Innovators (SDSI), a non-profit, business-accelerating trade organization. This organization pushes the growth of Southern California’s dynamic sports economy by facilitating inventive programs and services for startups, mature companies, and service providers.
Walton has written a book, Back from the Dead, and co-authored Nothing but Net. Currently, he lives in his hometown of San Diego with his wife. They are the proud parents of four sons, Adam, Nathan, Luke, and Chris, and blessed grandparents of Olivia, Chase, Parker, Avery, Patrick, Lawson, Landon, Wilhelmina, and Wolfgang.