NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton Is a Huge Cyclist
“I am the luckiest guy in the world because I am alive and I can ride my bike,” he said. “It is the ultimate celebration of life when you go out there and are able to do what you can do. I have not been able to play basketball for 34 years. I have not been able to walk for enjoyment or pleasure or exercise in 41 years, but I can ride my bike.”
These hours alone in the saddle aren’t just keeping Walton healthy. They are keeping him happy in retirement, and he plans to ride as far as his body will let him.
At 6 feet 11 inches, NBA legend Bill Walton is not someone you can miss on a group ride. Not just because of his height, but because of his infectious enthusiasm that excites fellow cyclists and sends everyone up the road with big smiles on their faces.
That’s often where you’ll find the NBA Hall of Famer when he’s home in San Diego. The 67-year-old loves his bike, using his bike built by Holland Cycles of San Diego more than his electric Tesla to get around his California neighborhood.
After a career on the hardwood, racking up accolades like being the first pick in the 1974 NBA Draft followed by winning two NBA championships and league MVP in 1978, Walton’s body needed a rest from the beating it took on the court.
“I have had 38 orthopedic operations. Both my ankles are fused. I have an artificial knee. I have a new spine. I have broken countless bones. Every bone in both hands. Every bone in both feet; both legs. I have broken my back. I’ve had countless facial and cranial fractures. I spent my life falling down.”
Cycling, in addition to having low impact on his body, also offered a physical challenge that has changed his life.
“What sports gave to me as an early childhood dreamer was hope, opportunity, and purpose,” Walton said. “I am 67 now, and I have added to hope, opportunity and purpose pride, loyalty and gratitude. I am alive and I get to ride my bike today.”
In retirement, you can often see him on TV as a color commentator for college and pro basketball games, but when he’s not doing that he’s usually home riding or doing multiday tours across the western United States. For him, any day on a bike—no matter how brutal—is better than a day off.
In addition to pushing himself, Walton also rides for charity. He is an outspoken advocate for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
Thanks for a great article Bicycling.com