Devon Walker believed he was headed to a post-graduation celebration dinner with his family on on Saturday night. Instead, the former Tulane football stand-out received the surprise of a lifetime.
Instead of his favorite restaurant, Walker's family took him to the New Orleans Saints rookie minicamp where Saints coach Sean Payton offered him a contract with the team.
Of course, hundreds of former college stars will sign with NFL teams in the coming months. What makes Walker's situation unique is that he was paralyzed from the neck down in a devastating injury he suffered during a 2012 game.
"When Devon got hurt, his football career was just starting to take off after three years of hard work," said Payton in a press conference, with Walker by his side.
"Despite the devastating injury he suffered, Devon refuses to let that define him. He is an outstanding young man who is an inspiration not only to his coaches and teammates at Tulane, but to all of us."
"For me this is one of my dreams come true," Walker told the press. "I've been a Saint since before I was walking. Just to be a part of the team and be around the players is more than I could have hoped for."
The 23-year-old Walker participated in Tulane's graduation ceremony just hours before the Saints offered him a contract. He has been frequently commended for his courage following the tragic end of his playing career and he has received outpourings of affection from the New Orleans community in the past.
Along with Michael Sam who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams as the first openly gay man selected by an NFL team, Walker is part of an historic offseason of firsts for the NFL.