Saints Sign Paralyzed Player
Inspirational Devon Walker says it's like a dream come true
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2014 8:43 AM CDT
Devon Walker speaks next to New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton after the Saints signed the former Tulane safety in Metairie, La., Saturday, May 17, 2014.   (AP Photo/ The Times-Picayune, Brett Duke)

(Newser) – Devon Walker had a pretty big day yesterday, graduating Tulane University within hours of landing an NFL contract with the New Orleans Saints. Adding to Walker's feat: He's wheelchair bound and uses a ventilator, after having been paralyzed from the neck down in a 2012 on-field collision. That devastating accident doesn't appear to have slowed the former safety down much: As ESPN reports, Walker has fashioned himself into an inspiration and leader for Tulane's Green Wave.

"I didn't have to do any pregame speeches at home because he did them all," says Tulane coach Curtis Johnson, a former Saints coach. "He policed the locker room. This kid deserves it all. He's very inspirational. Man, I love the kid." Saints coach Sean Payton says Walker has been "an inspiration to our region, to our community, New Orleans, the Tulane family, and it's carried over to us on the Saints." Walker, a Louisiana native, is no less effusive, saying, "I've been a Saint since before I was walking. Just to be a part of this team, just to be around the players is more than I could have hoped."