When Lonnie Walker IV had his mandatory draft day photo opportunity with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver a couple of years ago, the Internet had a field day with memes about his San Antonio Spurs cap "floating" on his head.
The No. 18 pick would be best remembered for his signature hairstyle rather than his game. Walker averaged a mere 4.9 points and 1.9 rebounds in just 70 total games throughout his first two seasons, as he suffered injuries and spent time with San Antonio's G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs.
The sophomore guard recently had his towering hair cut off... and shared the heartbreaking story behind his iconic look.
He wrote on Instagram, "The real truth as to why I started doing this early 5th grade, it was a cloaking device for me. During the summer of my 5th grade year I was around more family. Some [whose] names will be left alone, I was around more.
"I was sexually harassed, raped [and] abused. I even got accustomed to it because, being at that age, you don't know what is what. I was a gullible, curious kid that didn't know what the real world was. I had a mindset that my hair was something that I can control. My hair was what I can make and create and be mine. And it gave [me] confidence."
Walker admitted that he hasn't been at his best amid the coronavirus pandemic, which brought back painful memories: "It sucked mentally." On the flipside, the current situation has led him to reflect and discover his true self.
"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," he explained. "Why? Because it's dead weight. Time doesn't wait on anyone, so why should I waste my time on it?"
For Walker, getting rid of his hair was "more than a cut," and that his patented hairdo is "a mask of me hiding the insecurities."
"But now, [I am] better than ever. Out with [the] old. In with the new. I have shed my skin mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Life will always be hard. Gotta play with the cards you're dealt with and try and make a winning hand. And if you lose. It's never a loss. It's a lesson."