Hundreds attend Tray Walker's funeral to mourn 'our brother'

ByJames Walker ESPN logo
Sunday, March 27, 2016

MIAMI -- Hundreds of family members and friends, members of the Baltimore Ravens and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith were among those who gathered Saturday to memorialize and mourn the death of cornerback Tray Walker.

Walker died March 18, one day after being critically injured in a dirt bike crash in Liberty City, Florida. He was 23.

Approximately 45 Ravens coaches, executives and players were in attendance for Walker's funeral, including head coach John Harbaugh, general manager Ozzie Newsome and wide receiver Steve Smith. Harbaugh was one of several speakers at the funeral and offered a touching sermon.

"The first thing I noticed was the smile, the big Tray Walker smile," Harbaugh said of his first encounter with Walker.

Harbaugh explained how Walker cared deeply about his mother, family and football. He also told a story about Walker's first experience with snow in Baltimore, prompting some laughter.

At the end of Harbaugh's speech, he added, "Tray Walker, we love you, and we're going to miss you."

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was good friends with Walker, his teammate at Northwestern High School. Bridgewater told ESPN afterward that he will always remember the "great memories" he had with Walker and how much football meant to him.

"His NFL career had just begun," Bridgewater said. "He had tremendous upside, size, everything that you look for in a defensive back. Football was an outlet for us, so when he was out there on that field, football was a vacation for him. That's how it is for a lot of us down here [in Miami]. So he was just scratching the surface and getting his feet wet in the NFL, and I was just excited for him knowing he was going to have a tremendous career.

"It's very tough for the community. Tray was a guy that was loved by many, as you can see with all the people that were here today. It's a tough loss. Everyone has great memories of Tray. He was a great guy and he will be truly missed."

About a dozen representatives from Walker's college, Texas Southern University, were present, as well as agent Ron Butler, who also spoke at the funeral.

In addition to Smith, other notable Ravens players who showed their support for Walker on Saturday included receiver Kamar Aiken, defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan, cornerback Jimmy Smith and safety Matt Elam. The Ravens entered Community Baptist Church in unison, along with Walker's family.

"Today, it was a tough day," Ravens defensive back Anthony Levine said after the funeral. "We're mourning our brother. We're going to miss him."

Walker was hit by an SUV on March 17 while riding a dirt bike through the intersection of Northwest 75th Street and Northwest 21st Ave in his hometown of Liberty City. Police said Walker's bike did not have headlights and that he was wearing dark clothing. He was not wearing a helmet, Butler said.

Walker was treated at the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital. He was pronounced dead the following day.

A fourth-round pick in 2015, Walker played eight defensive snaps for the Ravens in his rookie season and had one tackle. He dedicated his rookie season to his father, Tommy Walker, who died of a heart attack in 2014.