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If you like Herschel Walker's story, you might also like:
Hank Aaron,
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Herschel Walker
Herschel Walker
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Herschel Walker Interview

All-American Football Player

June 28, 1991
New York, New York

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  Herschel Walker

What were your dreams as a young man?

Herschel Walker: Coming from a small town it was really tough to dream big. When I grew up in a small town in Georgia, my biggest dream was one day to be able to go to Atlanta, Georgia. To be able to go to Atlanta, which was about two hours and 45 minutes from my home. So, to dream about going to Atlanta was it. You'd think about that - you'd think about that. I never dreamed about football. I never dreamed about being an actor, because that was out of reach. Coming from a small town that was big in farming, and also big in clothing factories, you don't dream about being a professional football player or an actor. So you go to Atlanta, and you're in the big city now. That was the dream.

The majority of the people that I was growing up with were going off into the military. A lot of my classmates thought of going into the military. That was something more worthwhile, that had a purpose. I was always by himself. I didn't drink, I'm not a big partyer, so I love being by myself. Deep down inside of me, I realized that the military has got a purpose. I wanted to go into the military at that time.

What was it like growing up in a small town in rural Georgia?

Herschel Walker: I think growing up in a small town gave me a lot of values. It has helped me to mature as an individual as well as a person. I think as an individual, because it helped me to have confidence within myself. I think today we have to help our youth to gain this confidence within themselves. People use so many excuses -- peer pressure is thier biggest excuse. There's no such thing as peer pressure. If you believe within yourself, there is no peer pressure.

You know what's right and what's wrong. I think every individual know what's right. You can take your most violent criminal, and you have a talk with him, and he will say, "I wanted to get caught because I knew what I was doing wasn't right, but I couldn't stop." So I say there is no peer pressure, if you believe within yourself. Growing up, I started developing confidence in what I felt.

My parents helped me to believe in myself. I wasn't the best looking guy, I wasn't the best athlete in the world, but they made me feel good about myself. "Herschel, you are somebody. Whether you are black, white, it doesn't matter. You are a person and God loves you." So that made me feel good. I was able to feel good about myself, growing up in a small town. And then again, there was real hard work ethics. That's what we need today. Young people, adults, we need good work ethics. Because nothing is going to come to you easy. We've got too much of a competitive world for anything to come easy to you. People competing in everything. It doesn't matter what it is. Football, that's just athletics. But in the business world -- doing everything -- people are competing. So you got to get those very good work ethics, and I think that helped me develop good work ethics, being in a small town.

What kind of a kid were you? What were you like when you were growing up?

I was a little different. I still say I'm a little different, because success to me is not having the most money, or having the biggest car or the biggest house. Success is just being happy. And I try so many different things. I do a lot of different things because I think God has helped me to love myself. I know who God is, and I love God. So, I think growing up as a kid, I used to write all the time. I was always by myself. It's not that I wanted to be by myself, but we lived in a small town. We lived out in the country. There was no one around, so I was not going to use excuses and wander away from home, going over someone else's. I'd sit at home. I wrote. Whatever I could get my hands on, I read, and you know I just was a different little kid, I think.

What did you read that had an influence on you?

Herschel Walker: I used to read the Bible a lot. Read little short Bible stories. And today, whenever I give speeches, I bring up a few of those Bible stories, because those are inspirations to me. Some people get up and they tell you their life story, like a boxer always comes out and he says, "Well, I was never a tough guy, and this guy stole my bike," like Muhammed Ali, "so I went in to boxing and next thing I know, I'm the heavyweight champion." You know, anyone could do that. I don't mean anyone could do it, but anyone could do one of those stories. But no one can die and come back alive again. It hasn't been done yet. There is only one person that has done something like that. So that inspired me. I said, 'hey, this guy's my hero. If he can do that, I'm going to believe in this guy here.' And to see him, who can help the blind to see, people that are sick he can cure. He became the guy that I looked up to. Whenever my parents or anyone started talking about religion, or about God, I eased over there and listened a little bit, because I said, 'that's knowledge.' I'm not a big guy that's going to try to throw religion on anyone because that person has to be accountable for himself. I think that's what we have to do in society today is to be accountable for yourself. I think we have the tendency of always wanting to live someone else's life. We want to tell that person what to do, how to act, but yet, we don't know how to act. I think first, if we learn to act, maybe we can help that other person. That's the way I try to be brought up.

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This page last revised on Sep 28, 2010 21:18 EDT
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