In the year and a half San Antonio Spurs fans have watched Lonnie Walker IV on the court, the 21-year-old has made a name for himself by scoring big — really big, like the 28 points he netted in a December game against the Houston Rockets. But he’s just as well known for his distinctive, gravity-defying hairstyle.
Or he was.
This week, the shooting guard parted ways with his signature look and took the opportunity to tell those fans the deeply emotional story of just what was behind it.
On Thursday night, Walker shared a video on Instagram revealing the moment a hand guided electric clippers through the top of his do. Those in the room could be heard cheering and shouting as he began his transformation.
The clip also featured footage of Walker describing the evolution of his hair, from his middle school mohawk and beyond. But in the text that accompanied the clip, he revealed that he started concentrating on his hair even earlier — and he revealed why.
“The real truth as to why i started doing this early 5th grade, it was a cloaking device for me,” he wrote. “During the summer of my 5th grade year I was around more family. Some that names will be left alone I was around more. I was sexually harassed, raped, abused, I even got accustomed to it because being at that age you don’t know what is what.”
He referred to himself at that time as “a gullible curious kid” who didn’t know about “the real world.” But he knew that he longed for control within his own world.
“I had a mindset that my hair was something that I can control,” he continued. “My hair was what I can make and create and be mine. And it gave my confidence.”
Walker then noted that the isolation that’s come with the coronavirus pandemic has given him the time and space to really to revisit his history in his mind and consider his present.
“Because of this virus, I began to truly look at myself in the mirror and see who I truly was even behind closed doors,” he wrote. “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?”
And just like that, the NBA star knew what he wanted to do next. After letting go of the past, he was ready to shed the protective cloak.
“Me cutting my hair was more than a cut,” he noted. “My hair was a mask of me hiding the insecurity’s that I felt the world wasn’t ready for. But now better then ever. Out with old. In with the new. I have shed my skin mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.”
In the more than 3,000 comments that followed his post, again and again Walker’s followers applauded his openness, honesty, bravery and compassion.
“Life will always be hard,” he wrote as his message came to an end. “Gotta play with the cards your dealt with and try and make a winning hand. And if you lose. It’s never a lost. It’s a lesson. I’m gonna be off this for awhile still growing through this. Just know I love each and everyone one of y’all. Peace love and happiness.”