Sunday, September 20, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 29

Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week

The following article was posted on November 30th, 2016, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 17, Issue 39 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 17, Issue 39

Jojo Walker


America has long been known as the “Land of Opportunity.” Since the nation’s inception, people have journeyed from near and far in search of a better life. It’s what motivated the pilgrims, it’s what motivates so many immigrants today, and it’s what motivates St. Joseph High School basketball player JoJo Walker. 

Walker is from Carolina, Puerto Rico, and moved to Santa Maria at the start of high school. He left his entire family behind in Puerto Rico and embarked on a journey to provide a better life for himself and his mother.  


When his mother asked why he was making the decision to leave, he said it was all about her. Walker said he told her, “I want to take you out of Puerto Rico, you deserve better.” While he had family in Miami and there was a possibility of moving there, he was adamant that learning English was needed in his journey and felt Santa Maria would require a faster immersion into the English language than Miami. Needless to say, he found plenty of native Spanish speakers once he arrived to the sunny California valley.  

Then during his freshman year, Walker broke his leg. Thousands of miles from home and filled with despair, Walker thought all was lost. When asked if he ever felt like giving up during this time period, Walker confirmed, “That was my first thought: I’m never going to play basketball again,” but his mother was quick to get him back on track and re-dedicated to the journey.

Last year, Walker led St. Joe’s to the Class 5AA CIF Championship. After the school year, Walker spent some time over the summer playing AAU ball for Nike South Beach on the EYBL circuit. The EYBL is a Nike-run summer league that features the best prep basketball players in the country. The latest version featured five players scheduled to go in the top 10 of the 2018
NBA draft.

The competition at the EYBL is highly reguarded, but Walker didn’t even know about the EYBL circuit until his coach told him about the league. In the end, Walker played well over the summer averaging almost 10 points per game. 

In mid-November, Walker inked his name to a scholarship offer from the University of Portland. Like St. Joe’s, the school is a Christian institution. Walker said that was a factor in his descion. “I feel like being in a Catholic School is better for me,” he said.

Another contributing factor in his descion was the new coach at Portland, former NBA player and coach Terry Porter. When asked about Porter’s influence on his descion, Walker responded, “When I knew he was after me, I was like, ‘No, I’m going to Portland.’”

Walker is set to begin his senior year with his eyes toward another CIF crown. He also keeps alive the overall dream of a better life. Walker still has a cellphone with a Puerto Rican area code, undoubtedly so he can still chat regularly with his mother. 

Weekly Poll
Should the county Public Health Department help elementary schools apply for the state’s waiver program?

Yes, that’s what the department is there for.
Schools shouldn’t open at all right now, nevermind with the county’s help.
If the state thinks schools are ready, what’s the problem?
Schools should have to fend for themselves; it shows whether they’re ready to handle reopening.

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