How this 22-year-old star athlete found hope after losing mom, aunt in crash that left him paralyzed 

Dollita Okine March 20, 2024
Ray Walker. Photo: Split Second Foundation

Ray “Speedy” Walker, who was a standout basketball player in high school, has had many hardships since an accident nearly took his life.

One day in April 2020, he and his mother and aunt were driving to leave flowers on his grandmother’s grave when a black SUV crashed into the side of their vehicle. After his 45-year-old mother, Eunique Ebbs, a former school bus driver, struggled to regain control of the car and crashed into a tree, he went completely unconscious.

He told People, “When I woke up, I was upfront facing the radio and I couldn’t move. It felt like a dream.”

He tried to wake his mother and his 23-year-old aunt, Shaique Andrews, but they were unresponsive and shortly after they were taken to a neighboring hospital, they both passed away.

Walker, who had hoped to play basketball for a college, found out that day that he had sustained severe spinal cord damage and now needed a wheelchair to go around. The loss of his mother and aunt only made his predicament worse.

He said, “It was tough, but I promised myself in the hospital that I would be more positive, smile more, and be grateful that I’m still here.”

A year after the accident, he found out about Split Second Fitness, an adaptive gym that was founded in 2021 and serves people with brain impairments, spinal cord injuries, and other disabilities. Mark Raymond Jr., a resident of New Orleans, founded the gym after suffering a serious injury to his arm and hand during a diving accident in 2016 that prevented him from walking.

The center offers carefully designed workout equipment and therapeutic programs to help clients become physically and emotionally stronger.

Now 22, Walker, who has found new hope, said, “Split Second definitely changed my life. I don’t think I’d have gotten this far without them. It’s given all of us a chance to continue living, continue exercising, and improving our quality of life. It’s become a second home for me.”

Walker was also able to get legal assistance from Raymond Jr.’s Foundation to better understand the complicated social security system.

Walker, whose story was told on an episode of the Netflix series Queer Eye in 2023, said, “When you’re paralyzed, it takes two times the strength to do what other people are doing. My goal has always been to regain my independence and live on my own, and Mark’s gym has helped me manifest that. What they do there is more than just about fitness.”

Raymond Jr. added, “Anybody’s life can change in a split second like mine did. What our organization is really centered around is ‘How do I give you hope? And how can I help you transform that hope into action steps for you to create a better tomorrow?’ “

Walker has now succeeded in obtaining his own apartment and vehicle thanks to his diligence and the resources provided by Raymond Jr’s gym and charity.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 20, 2024


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