BILL WALTON

Basketball Legend, Broadcaster, Humanitarian, and Survivor

“Those not willing to risk going too far will never know how far they can go.”
- Bill Walton

SUMMARY

Basketball legend Bill Walton is one of sports’ most recognizable and beloved figures. His success on the court is well-documented; the nation’s top college basketball star at UCLA under legendary coach John Wooden, he then played for two NBA Championship teams – the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics. But Bill’s nightmarish challenges off the court are less known. He stuttered so badly he couldn’t say a simple “thank you” until he was 28 years old. And a foot disorder led to 38 surgeries on his feet, legs, and back – keeping him sidelined over half of his NBA career. Armed with grit and a positive outlook, Bill improbably overcame it all. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and named to the “50 Greatest NBA Players of All-Time” list. After his playing career, Bill pursued broadcasting; he is currently covering Pac-12 games on ESPN. Bill Walton has led a life of humility in service of inspiring others. His autobiography, Back from the Dead, was a New York Times bestseller and he is perhaps the best-known Deadhead, having seen over 1,000 shows.

SPEECH DESCRIPTIONS

RISING TO THE CHALLENGE

“Those not willing to risk going too far will never know how far they can go.” Those words from Bill Walton sum up his philosophy of life. At 6’ 11” in his Grateful Dead tie-dyed t-shirt, Bill Walton is one of the most recognizable and colorful sports legends ever. He also has one of the greatest can-do attitudes you’ll ever encounter. It’s a mindset he’s cultivated and he gives it credit for helping him adapt, persevere, and ultimately succeed in challenges on and off the court. Named one of “50 Greatest NBA Players of All Time,” Bill incredibly missed 9½ of his 14 NBA seasons due to injuries related to orthopedic problems. Despite that, his achievements on the court were enormous. When his storied career ended with his 30th surgery, Bill’s dream was to pursue sports broadcasting. One problem: a severe lifelong stutter that prevented him from even saying a simple "thank you." Undeterred, Bill set about the task of learning to speak. He conquered stuttering and found a place behind the mic - earning numerous awards and honors since. Bill’s greatest test came in 2007 when severe back pain confined him to the floor of his home for 2½ years. Finally relenting to surgery in 2009, the grueling rehab and recovery from that 37th surgery could well be Bill’s biggest achievement. While Bill exclaims regularly, "I'm the luckiest guy on Earth," it's clear his outlook on life helped create that luck. Bill loves to inspire audiences to rise to the challenge of seeing just how far they can go.
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WHAT GREAT COACHES TAUGHT ME ABOUT LEADERSHIP

Basketball icon Bill Walton was part of legendary college and NBA championship teams: UCLA, the Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers. He was also part of the last place San Diego Clippers. According to Bill, the difference between winning and losing was leadership. The best coaches knew how to get the best out of their players. In Bill’s career no one was better than legendary UCLA coach John Wooden. An English teacher who coached on the side for extra money, Wooden focused on the fundamentals. He never talked about winning – and rarely even mentioned the opposing team. Wooden did insist that players work together, not be selfish, execute flawlessly, and be accountable for doing their best. Armed with that approach Wooden went on to win 88 consecutive games (a men’s collegiate record which still stands) and ten national championships. Bill, the consummate storyteller, shares tales that are as insightful as they are entertaining – about lessons of leadership he learned from John Wooden, Red Auerbach, Jack Ramsey, and others during his storied career. Bill provides an inside look at how world-class performance is really achieved on the basketball court - leadership and teamwork lessons based on principles that transfer off the court, too.
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CREATE A TEAM THAT ROCKS

What separates great teams from everyone else? Basketball legend Bill Walton knows and speaks from experience. Bill played on two championship teams under revered UCLA coach John Wooden. Those teams contributed to the Bruins’ 88-game winning streak, still the record in men’s basketball more than 40 years later. Bill was also a two-time NBA champion; with the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics. Of course, it’s not possible to appreciate great teamwork unless you’ve seen the other side of that coin and Bill experienced that as well during his time with the San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers. After Bill’s playing days ended, broadcasting offered him the perfect perch from which to watch extraordinary teams perform. Throughout his business endeavors, Bill applied the teamwork lessons he learned from sports with astonishing success. In this keynote speech, Bill talks about the essentials of teams that rock - cooperation, friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, discipline, execution, and leadership – with humorous and revealing anecdotes. As one of the most colorful characters from the sports world, Bill Walton delivers an inspiring message for teams looking to take their performance to the next level.
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MY 38 SURGERIES – A JOURNEY FROM INJURY TO RECOVERY

Bill Walton has the dubious distinction of being the most-injured player in NBA history. After 38 surgeries, the basketball superstar knows a thing or two about injuries, rehabilitation, and recovery. He knows what patients go through – and what caregivers and healthcare professionals go through. He can speak to both audiences authentically. In his 14-year pro career Bill missed a total of 9½ full seasons due to injury. Even so, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and won numerous awards and honors for his brilliant play. Imagine his impact on the game had he stayed healthy! Bill's feet, knees, and back - the foundation of his ability to perform as an athlete - let him down. His most serious surgery was to straighten his spine after spending 2½ years on the floor of his home in agonizing pain – literally unable to move and contemplating suicide. Now back in the game of life, Bill remains active on his bike – participating in several week-long charity biking events for groups like Challenged Athletes Foundation. He also speaks to audiences of patients, healthcare professionals, and those from allied fields - delivering an inspiring message about his own healing and recovery.
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IN PRINT

TESTIMONIALS

“Your message was right on, and so interesting, and so well delivered…I was literally clapping at the end —alone in my office.”

-HPE (Hewlett-Packard Enterprises)

“You were great. The response today has been tremendous.  My wife and 16-year old grandson were listening.  You answered his question.  He identified all the people in the pictures for my wife.  I have a lot to thank you for not just from Comport but as a grandfather. I’m cool.”

– Founder, Comport

“Your comments to the “Awesome + Excellent” network sales force were incredibly well received. The team was thrilled to take pictures and your patience in autographing the t-shirts went above and beyond. So happy you were able to join us – it was an honor.’

– Director of Sales, A&E Television

“What a special night! I thank you again for sharing your life, your passions, and pouring your soul out to us last night. It was incredibly moving and we all appreciate your time with us. I also really enjoyed our one on one time when it was all said and done. You exceeded my expectations. Everyone continued to talk about you today at the conference.”

– Wells Fargo

“What a fantastic presentation you shared with our team at Plug and Play this week. Your message was inspirational and everyone raved about how much they enjoyed the time with you. I love how open and honest you were and how you conveyed your message through storytelling.”

– Senior VP, Aflac

“Bill was fantastic! The crowd loved him and it was great to get to know him. He stayed for the entire night, signed autographs, took pictures. I’ll have to think about our future events and hope to have him again!”

– Connecting Point Marketing Group (CPMG)

“Bill was fantastic! He was easy to work with, very approachable and his passion about health and the healthcare industry was evident throughout his speech. Although we asked him to be at the venue about 25 minutes before his speech, he came early to hear our CEO speak and also stopped by our Women's Leadership Panel earlier in the morning, which was much appreciated. Additionally, Bill is an inspiration and everyone walked away from the speech commenting about how engaged they were throughout the whole hour. We'd definitely work with him again!”

– Allina Health

“He’s funny………boy did he COMMIT to the event. He came to our opening reception for like 2 hours and sat and talked to people! And he stayed after he spoke and took pictures for a full hour. He really was super about doing anything we asked of him. “

– Farm Journal Media

“To be honest, our board of directors questioned my recommendation of Bill as the keynote speaker. After the event, they apologized for questioning me...profusely. We are not sure how we will top Bill's passion and the memorable delivery he gave at next year's event. Bill was a true professional and took the time to study our issue and audience like no speaker I have booked before. We are still getting comments on how good the program was months after the fact. I give my highest recommendation for Bill Walton as a keynote or corporate speaker, amazing.”

– Utah Clean Air Partnership

“So many raves! The response to our event has been awesome. Your speech was upbeat and on target! I wish I had your recall for names! You also impressed a great many people by staying an extra hour and a half to sign autographs and take more pictures. Not one guest in 22 years has done that.”

– VP Marketing & Communications, Lifespan

“Bill Walton was great. Personable, entertaining, professional, welcoming, interesting. We had great feedback about him. He was a real pleasure to work with. At our Thursday night reception, he stayed until 930 or so! He spoke to everyone who came up to him. That night, he signed everything we gave him. He was an overwhelming success!”

– Senior Vice President, Rockbridge Capital

“From the bottom of my heart, Thank You. Your talk was wonderful. The crowd loved you. It touched on such important and current topics. Lunch was amazing! There aren't enough words. All I can say is, "Let's do it again!"...soon!”

– President, San Diego Entrepreneurs Organization

“I have never received more positive feedback about one of our guest speakers and please believe me when I say a room full of lawyers is a very tough crowd. In describing your presentation, I heard the words "inspiring," "motivating," "positivity" and "amazing” multiple times.”

– Past President, Association of Southern California Defense Counsel

“It was an amazingly, spectacular event with Mr. Walton.  Our customers and guests were blown away with his genuineness -- intelligence -- outlook on life and compassion toward others -- and their "one and lifetime" opportunity to meet a living legend.  Bill went out of his way to make EVERY person in the room feel like they mattered -- and he personally spent time talking to each of them. Simply unbelievable, which an email can not describe.”

– Head of Strategic Services, Irving Place Capital

“Bill’s performance at our event was funny, insightful, authentic and captivating. He carefully tied in the principles he was talking about with the characteristics of our firm, for which we owe him a large debt of gratitude.”

– CFO & Director of Operations, Preston Estate Planning