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Kenny Walker Biography

Chronology, Named Defensive Player Of The Year, Joined Denver Broncos, Awards And Accomplishments, Career Statistics

1967-

American football player

When football player Kenny Walker made his professional debut in the early 1990s, he became the first deaf player in the National Football League (NFL) in nearly twenty years. A defensive lineman with the Denver Broncos in 1991 and 1992, Walker became a hero among the hearing-impaired with his against-theodds success story. The 6-foot-4-inch, 260-pound player picked up his defensive calls by reading other players' lips, and distinguished himself on the playing field with a strong performance. After two years with the Broncos, Walker joined the Calgary Stampeders, becoming the first deaf player in the history of the Canadian Football League (CFL).

Born on April 6, 1967, in Crane, Texas, Kenny Walker was the youngest of six children born to a cafeteria-worker mother and an oil-field worker father. He was two years old when he contracted spinal meningitis, which left him deprived of his ability to hear. While his family helped him with his disability, his two older brothers, Darren and Gus, made sure their little brother did not fall prey to self-pity. "If I was pouting, or wanting sympathy, they'd deck me," Walker told Tom Keyser of the Calgary Herald.

After young Walker's parents separated, his mother relocated with her children to Denver, Colorado. Here Walker attended a deaf program at the University of Denver. A natural athlete, he played street sports with friends, and made the football team as a starter in the tenth grade. As a defensive end and split end, he was a fast, capable player who excelled on the field. Upon graduation from high school he was offered a football scholarship from the University of Nebraska.

Sketch by Wendy Kagan

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Famous Sports StarsFootball