So much of ourselves, our fears, our desires and our past, can be wrapped up in our hair. But for San Antonio Spurs player, Lonnie Walker IV, his signature pineapple dreads were more than just making a statement. Sadly, woven into his tresses were years of crippling trauma, including a history of childhood sexual abuse.
But now, the brave 21-year-old is sharing his story on Instagram, and parting ways with a hairstyle that he started growing when he was in 5th-grade, as a means to “cloak himself” from the people around him.
“It was a cloaking device for me. During the summer of my 5th-grade year, I was around more family … I was sexually harassed, raped, abused, I even got accustomed to it because being at that age you don’t know what is what,” he wrote.
Adding, “I had a mindset that my hair was something that I can control. My hair was what I can make and create and be mine.”
Now, he is taking back that control by buzzing it off, and he live-streamed the emotional process.
“I have found peace and internal happiness through this journey God willingly,” said Walker. “ Me cutting my hair was more than a cut. My hair was a mask of me hiding insecurities that I felt the world wasn’t ready for…. I have shed my skin mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.”
The end result? A nicely-crafted fade with a crucifix on the left side of his head. Stunning. Take a look:
Sadly, Walker’s history of sexual assault is not new, or rare. According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center (NSVRC), one out of four girls and one out of six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. We know that in the Black community, this issue is rarely talked about despite, how prevalent it is, so to see Walker speak out, with no shame, or fear is such a courageous act.
“I was a gullible, curious kid that didn’t know what the real world was,” Walker said. “As of recently, I wasn’t at my best. Previous history popping in my head and it sucked mentally.”
No child should have to go through this type of abuse, trauma and PTSD, but by speaking out and raising awareness, I hope that he will remain on the up, but most important, remind other survivors, that they are not alone.
If you are a sexual abuse survivor and need resources and assistance, please go to ncvrc.org.