Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Boston Celtics former-superstar, Sam Jones, paved the way for Jimmy Walker to become an NBA star. But Jimmy never met his son, Jimmy Walker.

Virtually every NBA fan recognizes the name of former Boston Celtics superstar Sam Jones, and most know about former NBA player and current analyst, Jalen Rose. But they may not know about the late Jimmy Walker and his connection to both Sam and Jalen.

Most of the following information is derived from author Marc C. Bodanza’s excellent bio of Sam Jones, Ten Times a Champion. Jones noticed budding basketball star, Jimmy Walker, when Jimmy starred at Boston Trade High School while Sam was playing for the Boston Celtics. Jones wanted better things for Walker and paved the way for Jimmy to attend Sam’s alma mater, Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina, even paying his tuition.

Walker moved on to Providence College where he played under Coach Joe Mullaney. He had a stellar college career, setting a school record of 2,045 points-scored in three years, a record finally broken by future-Celtic, Ryan Gomes in 2005.

Walker was picked number one overall in the 1967 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons and had a fine career, earning two appearances in the All-Star game. Jimmy died in 2007 at the age of 63, but not before fathering a son, Jalen Rose, whom he never got to meet. Jimmy left before Jalen’s birth. Walker’s death came just a month before a scheduled meeting with his son (per Marc C. Bodanza from his book):

Sam (Jones) received a letter from Jimmy Walker only weeks before Walker’s death. In the letter, Jimmy described his excitement about the planned meeting with his son. Rose inherited his father’s athleticism and basketball talent. Rose and Walker, the only father and son to each score 10,000 points in the NBA, never had a relationship as father and son.

I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Sam Jones and Marc C. Bodanza last year. They are similar in the sense they are both soft-spoken, with no flash or fanfare about them. I watched Sam perform many times at Boston Garden, and he was often a quiet assassin to opponents on the parquet. Marc’s writings are simply gems.

Marc and Sam will be in the Boston area this weekend. They will be at Barnes and Noble in Leominster, Massachusetts from 6:00-8:00 PM on Friday , September 20, 2019 for a book signing, and then at the Leominster Johnny Appleseed Festival from 10:00 AM-2:00 PM on Saturday, September 21. If you have the opportunity, go meet them.

Follow Tom at @CelticsSentinel and @_Celtics_Center

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