When Bill Walton announced in 2009 that he was leaving broadcasting to devote his life to service, he was seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel regarding a serious back problem which caused excruciating pain he thought would never end.
The following spring, the former NBA and college basketball great who had endeared fans with his verbose comedy and wit as an NBA analyst for both NBC and ESPN, revealed that while his back pain was at the peak of its torment, the pain was so unbearable he contemplated suicide.
"It got to the point where my life wasn’t worth living," Walton explained. "I was standing on the edge of the bridge, figuring it was better to jump than to go back to where I was.”
“You can’t understand until you’ve been where I’ve been.”
Walton continues to work with charitable foundations, notably The Challenged Athletes Foundation, an organization which "recognizes the athletic greatness inherent in all people with physical challenges and supports their athletic endeavors by providing unparalleled sports opportunities that lead to success in sports — and in life."
Now Walton will return to television as a color analyst for the Pac-12 networks and ESPN for Pac-12 men's college basketball in 2012-13.
There are many Bill Walton quotes which stimulate the mind, and viewers hope there will be many more exaggerations in the vein of "Cuttino Mobley has just made the two worst shot attempts in the history of this proud Houston Rockets franchise."
Or, “Mick Jagger is in better shape than far too many NBA players. It’s up in the air whether the same can be said of Keith Richards.”
"We are extremely honored to have Bill Walton lend his knowledge of the game as an analyst for the Pac-12 Networks," Pac-12 Enterprises President Gary Stevenson said in a press release.
"Bill’s legendary playing career has made his name synonymous with UCLA and the Pac-12’s basketball tradition and his unique style and engaging personality has had the same effect in the sports broadcasting arena. We are excited to have him on board.”
It is yet to be determined which games on the 2012-13 schedule Walton will provide commentary for, but at some point count on the the big redhead waxing poetically from Pauley Pavilion, home of the UCLA bruins where he starred as a player from 1970-74.
“I’m thrilled, privileged, honored and humbled for the opportunity to be a part of the special team that is being assembled as part of the new Pac-12 Multimedia Networks,” Walton said.
Walton added, “Commissioner Larry Scott is a vibrant, dynamic, visionary leader who stands alone at the top of our world. He is a huge reason why I am here. I make my choices in life based on purpose and people -- and that is why I am so excited about what we have at the Pac-12 Networks. Pride and loyalty are the driving emotions in my life and what could be better than what we have here. The West is The Best. Tradition. Environment. Demographics: We have it all!! Let’s go to college!!! Let’s play ball!!! Let’s chase our dreams!!! Here we go!!!”