By Brian Maurer
Photo courtesy of Charlotte FC
While I did not know Anton Walkes well, I remember how often he was willing to show up for us in the media. It didn’t matter if it was a big win or a tough loss Walkes was always one of the guys we could count on for post-match interviews. Since there were so many times he had shown up for us I wanted to do my part to try and show up for him in the best way I know how. With a keyboard.
Below is a compilation of memories from his life and his past year:
It was clear from when I first met Anton that he was an extremely talented young man, there wasn't a sport he wasn't good at. Football was of course the sport in which he stood out the most, however, so we sent him on a trial at Spurs. It was an extremely proud moment when he signed his first pro contract, and then sitting back and watching his career unfold was a pleasure. Although, one of my fondest memories of Anton does not involve football. Anton was also a very talented long-distance runner; his fitness was unbelievable. At the local Lewisham Championships, he was set to run the 800m, however, we didn't have anyone to run the 1500m race beforehand. He was running around asking anyone and everyone to run the race just to gain some points for our school, however, everyone refused. Just before the race began Anton told me he would run the race, so he did, and he won! He then had a 5-minute rest period before having to run the 800m which he also went on to win. We went on to win this competition by 5 points, so had he not run the 1500m we would have lost. This moment for me really sums Anton up, his passion and resilience to win at all costs was next to none. His attitude gained him so much respect from his peers, that he was voted most likely to become a sports star and most likely to be famous in the class of 2013 Yearbook. It's safe to say the year group knew him well. He will be missed by many.
Anthony Marcus was one of Walkes' childhood teachers at Prendergast Ladywell.
Throughout the past year, the soccer world honored Walkes in a multitude of ways. From tifos to moments of silence, to his daughter, Ayla Walkes, returning to Bank of America Stadium to walk out with Ashley Westwood for the final match of the season.
“We’ll take him everywhere we go,” Westwood said in a recent preseason press conference, as Charlotte FC prepares for the 2024 season.
Walkes has left a mark on many in the Charlotte soccer community. The outpouring of compassion that has been shown over the past year has been emotional to watch. He showed how quickly one can make an impact in this world, and how important it is to love every moment of it.
When the young leave too soon,
At a loss of what to do.
Take a breath, hear the quiet.
There’s emptiness, you can’t deny it.
On Saturday, he Walkes the ground.
The crowd cheers a familiar sound.
Take the field! He’s there with you!
Forever Black and Blue!
You can join in a Celebration of Life memorial for Anton Walkes at Forest Lawn West from 12 PM-5 PM.