ALIQUIPPA – When it was Donovan Walker’s turn to showcase his athletic ability in high school, he knew the responsibility that lay before him. 

He had to do his part to keep up the proud Aliquippa tradition.

But “D.J.” as he’s called also had another important obligation to live up to.

He had to maintain his family’s proud sports legacy.

Now that he’s graduated high school and already moved on to college, it’s safe to say that Walker lived up to both traditions.

The latest in a long line of family members to wear the Quips’ black and red colors, Walker excelled in three sports: football, basketball and track.

As a senior, he played wide receiver and safety for Aliquippa’s 13-1 football team that won the WPIAL class 4A title and advanced to the PIAA championship game.  

Aliquippa's Donovan Walker reacts after scoring a touchdown during the first half against Central Valley Friday night at Jimbo Covert Field in Freedom, PA.

He played guard for the Quips’ 24-7 basketball team that won the WPIAL class 2A championship and also made it to the state final for the second straight year.

In track, he placed third in the triple jump and fourth in the long jump in class 2A of the WPIAL Championships and then placed 12th and 28th in those events at the PIAA Championships.

No wonder Walker earned Beaver County Times Boys Athlete of the Year honors for the second straight year.

“If I want to be one of the best to come from Aliquippa, then I’ve got to win in football and basketball, and then I’ve got to do it in track,” Walker said last year after receiving his first BCT Boys Athlete of the Year award.

“I feel great about it,” Walker said after learning of his Boys Athlete of the Year repeat. “After winning it my junior year, I felt going into my senior year that I had to do it again, and I did. That’s a great feeling.”

Aliquippa's DJ Walker holds up the WPIAL Class 2A basketball championship after Aliquippa defeated Northgate Saturday at the Petersen Events Center.

Walker, who’s taking classes this summer at Ohio University where he’ll continue his football career, also feels great about adding on to his family’s legacy. 

His uncle Myron Walker led Aliquippa to the 3A state basketball title in 1989 and then went on to star at Robert Morris University and still holds the Colonials’ all-time scoring record.

His uncle Vance Walker, who played basketball for Aliquippa and then at Waynesburg University, is the father of Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, a Hopewell graduate who’s in her seventh season in the Women’s National Basketball Association.

And his older brother Larry Walker, a defensive back at University of Albany, played on Aliquippa’s WPIAL and state championship football teams in 2018.

“The Walker tradition keeps getting better year by year,” Donovan Walker said.

As a junior, Walker earned all-state honors as a defensive back when Aliquippa won WPIAL and PIAA football championships. 

Last fall, he capped his football career at Aliquippa by making the all-state team as a DB for the second straight year. As a wide receiver, he caught 35 passes for 591 yards, an average of 16.9 yards. From his safety position on defense, he intercepted seven passes just as he did as a junior.

Aliquippa's Donovan Walker (21) sprints downfield after intercepting a pass during the second half against Central Valley Friday night at Jimbo Covert Field in Freedom, PA.

“He was the leader that we needed throughout the whole year both vocally and in his actions,” said Quips football coach Mike Warfield. “He was our team MVP.” 

When asked what made Walker such a dynamic play-making safety, Warfield said “his intelligence. He knows the game. He has great range. He covers a lot of space. He’s athletic. He’s come-up-and-hit-you tough. He has it all. When he gets caught up to the speed of the college game, he’s going to be just as successful at that next level.

“I’m happy for him,” Warfield added. “He’s just a beautiful kid, all the way around from the classroom to the playing field.”

“I felt that I left it all out there for my team,” Walker said. “I felt like I contributed the best I could for my team on offense and defense. We came up short in the state championship game (a 41-18 loss to Bishop McDevitt) but we still had a great season.”

On the basketball court this past season, Walker, who’s 6-foot-1, was the Quips’ only senior starter. He and teammate Cameron Lindsey, a 6-3 junior forward, both scored around 15 points per game and both earned Class 2A all-state honors. Lindsey was second-team all-state, while Walker earned third-team honors. 

“D.J. had a very solid year. He did a great job for us,” said Quips basketball coach Nick Lackovich. “He’s going to college to play football, but he does have good basketball skills. He’s the kind of kid that if he wasn’t so committed to football, he could have played college basketball.  At what level, who knows? It would have depended on how much time he put into basketball.

“He was a good shooter, kind of streaky at times. But he had a knack for timing. If we needed a big basket, he was the kind of guy who would knock down two or three shots in a row at the right time. Maybe his biggest thing was that he was able to get to the basket more so than relying on his outside shot. He could take a game over.”

Aliquippa's DJ Walker dunks for the last shot in Saturday's WPIAL Class 2A championship game against Northgate at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh.

Because of his athleticism and quickness, Walker scored many of his points on drives to the hoop.

“My strength was getting to the basket and playing defense,” he said.

Now that his high school career is over, Walker now looks forward to playing defense as a safety for Ohio’s football team. 

Before deciding to attend Ohio, Walker received at least 10 other scholarship offers. Those offers came from Bowling Green, Akron, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan,  Air Force, Navy, Monmouth, Austin Peay, Fordham and even Albany where his brother Larry plays. But ultimately “D.J.” chose Ohio.

“It’s a beautiful place and has a good football program,” he said. “I felt like the coaches there had similar traits to my coaches here at Aliquippa. Ohio has everything I was looking for.”

Aliquippa's Donovan Walker (left) talks to head coach Nick Lackovich (right) during the second half of the PIAA 2A Championship game against Lancaster Mennonite Friday afternoon at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA.