Friday, May 7th, 2010 at 10:30 am  |  24 responses

Bill Walton: Healthy and Happy

Due to severe back pain, things had gotten so bleak in the last few years, that the Hall of Famer had contemplated suicide. But now, as he tells the NY Times, he’s feeling great once again: “It would take something extreme to rip Walton from the press table and push him into virtual solitude. It happened in February 2008. A back injury sustained decades ago had become a chronic, intensely painful condition that was destroying Walton’s spirit. There is no hyperbole in his description, only acute anguish and sorrow. ‘I had a life that was not worth living,’ Walton said Thursday. ‘I was on the floor and unable to move. The closest that I can come to describe it is, visualize yourself being submerged in a vat of scalding acid, with an electrifying current running through it. And there’s no way to ever get out.’ He added, ‘I had nothing.’ Walton, 57, has not called a game since that day and has only recently begun to re-engage with the world. He is healthy again, thanks to a surgical procedure that he says saved his life. He has become something of an evangelist for the doctor and the company that provided the template. He has no plans to return to broadcasting, but Walton has found a new outlet for his enthusiasm and oratory skills. ‘Basketball is one of those rare opportunities where you can make a difference, not only for yourself, but for other people as well,’ Walton said. ‘And now, as I’ve been able to climb back into the game of life one more time, that’s where I am.’ To help others with debilitating back problems, Walton is telling his story and, true to form, editing out nothing. There were days when he could not get off the floor. He could not sleep. He ate lying down. The pain was so intense that he considered suicide — an admission Walton made public last month in an interview with his hometown paper, The San Diego Union-Tribune. ‘This type of experience, ordeal, odyssey, it wrecks everything and it changes everything,’ Walton said Thursday. ‘You face every issue imaginable. Every issue — family, social, friends, financial, health — everything in your life is up in the air. You turn your back on people, friends, because it’s awful.”’

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  • Atrain

    Glad to hear, Walton one of the best to ever do it, injuries just cut short his career. THROW IT DOWN BIG MAN

  • Jumper

    WOW, had no idea he was in that type of pain! Acid with an electric current running through it!!! Yikes, sounds like a mortal Kombat fatality. Now that he has recovered, I hope he comes back to broadcasting. I really enjoy listening to games he calls.

  • Hussman25

    Long winded, but GREAT knowledge of the game… Get well Bill! Co-Sign Atrain “THROW IT DOWN BIG MAN”

  • The Philosopher

    Shout out to the whole Walton family.

  • JoeMaMa

    Bill’s a great guy. His announcing sometimes made me cry, but everytime I’d read an article on him, hear about the stuff he was doing and his general attitude on life, I realized he was good for the game and other people in many ways. Great to hear he’s feeling better.

  • yeaaaaaa

    gotta love him! go bruins

  • Kelly

    Its good to hear something about Bill Walton. I have often wondered what happened to him. I’m sorry he had to go through all that pain; but I’m glad that he seems to be doing much better, and is back on the road to enjoying life again.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    glad he’s alive and well after all that.

  • The Champ

    One of the great voices of the NBA. Hope he considers coming back to call a few games.

  • The Philosopher

    Co – sign The Champ.

  • Ronald

    I actually like Bill’s announcing style. He’s just too much of a nice guy to berate anyone and ends up praising everyone a bit too much. Unlike Reggie Miller, he’s not trying to find the next catchphrase and forcing it down your throat (Hand Down, Man Down? What the hell, that sounds retarded) and always seems to have a little story about someone. He’s rarely biased and he actually does point out the mistakes officials make without sounding like a fan.

  • Ronald

    *Mark Jackson and Reggie Miller.

  • Thomas

    I had a disc hernia when I was in college. And back pain is no joke. I am glad he’s doing better. Best f luck to the big guy!

  • http://www.twiter.com/dfrance21 dfrance21

    @Ronald I think LJ would disagree with you saying Walton doesn’t berate people. Lol. But I would love when he would say something like “Austin Croshere is one of the best sideline inbounds passers of all time!” And for the record, I personally love Hand Down Man Down, and mama there goes that man! Lol. I hate Reggie tho, he’s alwasy mixing up sayings like “time to throw in the white flag.” WTF???

  • Jay-g

    Bill was on the radio in Dallas about 2 weeks ago. He was on for 20 minutes and didn’t answer one damn question. I won’t lie it made me miss the big redhead on tv.

  • Mitch

    Bill Walton is the best announcer in the history of the western civilization

  • Lai Wai

    Walton was the protype center in 1st year in a time of dominant centers.
    But made his contributions again with Boston much like Grant Hill is doing in Phoenix.
    Would make a great coach,
    Glad your back.

  • BostonBaller


  • MikeC.

    @dfrance21 – I hear you on the hyperbole. When I was younger, I didn’t like Bill’s style that much, but as I got older, his style grew more and more entertaining. His knowledge of the game is fantastic. I think he gets bored with some of the mundane things and tries to find something marginal players are really good at so that he can give them some recognition instead of just fondling the undercarriage of the superstars all the time. I miss quips like “Eric Snow is one of the best in the league at bringing the ball over half-court.” When you’re a kid, that kind of stuff goes over your head, but when you’re older, you realize that Bill is talking smack. I miss him on the M.I.C.

  • MikeC.

    “The cardinal sin of basketball is the jump pass.”

  • MikeC.

    @SLAM crew – any chance you can organize a “come back to the booth” type of online petition/keep-getting-well card that can be sent to Bill so he knows the real fans miss him and want him back, at least on a part-time basis?

  • http://sevendeu2u.wordpress.com/ Seven Duece

    Best of luck to Mr. Walton in his return to health, I sure do miss his candid commentating.

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