Shaquille Walker: Mormon Athlete

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Shaquille Walker Mormon Athlete
Courtesy BYU

Shaquille Walker is an up-and-coming track star from Richmond Hill, Georgia. He was born in Blue Island, Illinois. He and his twin brother, Gemille, are in the middle of six sons born to Gemini and Brenda Walker. During high school, he developed into a middle-distance runner and won state championships in the 800. During his junior year, he sorted through the offers from universities who were vying for his attention and Stanford and Brigham Young University were his final choices. Not then a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, friends and teachers discouraged him from going to BYU, but that’s where he settled on. While healing from an injury his senior year, he went to Seminary with a friend, primarily because they had breakfast.[1] After gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon, he joined the Church three weeks before he graduated from high school.

During his freshman year at BYU, he ran the 800 in 1:49.39. He also anchored the 4 x 400 with splits of 45.7 at the NCAA regional championships and 45.6 at the NCAA finals. In the summer, he won the USA junior (19 and under) nationals and represented the United States in the world junior championships in Barcelona. He then served a full-time mission to England for two years and returned to BYU for the 2014–2015 school year. As a sophomore, he was undefeated through the indoor season until the NCAA championships. He ranked 10th in the 600 and 800 meters coming into the NCAA indoor championships. He had the fastest 800-meter indoor time (1:47.44) in school history at the University of Washington Indoor Invitational; the third fastest indoor time by a Utah collegian. He followed that time a week later at the New Mexico Classic with a 1:17.32 time in the 600-meter run, which was the third fastest in the nation for the season.

Walker has his sights set on being an Olympian. BYU track and field head coach Ed Eyestone said that Walker is “the best, most natural freakishly talented middle-distance runner we’ve ever had.”[2]