“I no longer could move,” he said. “I spent two years on the ground trying to get better, trying to wait it out. I did everything I could – everything. Nothing worked. It kept getting worse and worse. My life was not worth living and I was over.”
Walton is quick to say how long it’s been since his life turned around, experiencing a spinal surgery promoted by The Better Way Back program four years and four months ago.
“I have to continue working at it and will continue to the rest of my life. I like that,” Walton added with a smile.
The 60-year-old basketball hall of famer, who played 10 seasons between the Portland Trail Blazers, San Diego and Los Angeles Clippers, and Boston Celtics, spoke during a program promoting The Better Way Back at Doctors Hospital on Thursday.
Walton, along with former MMA fighter Nate Quarry, made an appearance endorsing the surgery. Walton, who used a boisterous style of enthusiasm in front of a microphone, has carried the same strong personality into his work for the spinal program.
“To be able to give people hope, to be able to give people the dream that they have a chance, that’s why we’re here,” he said. “How perfect it all is.”
Quarry is an equally strong testament to the program’s success. The former cage fighter, who appeared on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, returned only 15 months after surgery to defeat Pete Sell in 2007. Although he lost his only world title bout to Rich Franklin in 2005, Quarry’s record ended at 12-4.
Quarry’s final fight was a loss to Jorge Rivera in 2010, in which Quarry was forced to undergo a complete reconstruction of the left side of his face. He said he was able to move his left cheek bone with his hand. Quarry said fighting was a contributor to the spine condition that led to surgery.
“Training all the time definitely sped things along,” he said. “Plus, with doing jiu-jitsu over and over again, I was kind of fed my knees. People were twisting me into a pretzel.”
Quarry now speaks of the surgery with the same zeal as Walton, saying it changed his life. He has the ability to pick up his daughter and play with her, something that wasn’t possible before.
“I’m able to take care of my little girl,” he said. “She’s getting straight A’s, and that’s the biggest blessing in my life.”