Dealing With The Pain -- Javon Walker Speaks About Darrent Williams


The blood-stained shirt remains unwashed...
Javon Walker will appear on HBO's Real Sports on Tuesday Night, speaking for the first and only time, about the night Darrent Williams died in his arms.  ESPN.com has seen the interview, condcted by Andreea Kramer, and released some of it contents --
Denver Broncos wide receiver Javon Walker says he still has the bloodied shirt from the night teammate Darrent Williams died in his arms in a drive-by shooting on New Year's Day.

In his first public comments about Williams' unsolved death, Walker tells HBO's "Real Sports" in a segment to be aired Tuesday night that he keeps the unlaundered shirt as a reminder of his friend and of the fragility of life.

Interviewer Andrea Kremer asks Walker about showing up to Broncos headquarters about 10 hours after Williams' slaying while still wearing his bloodstained clothes.

"I still have those clothes," Walker replied.

Asked why he hadn't washed them, he said, "It's just something that reminds me every day of what could happen and this is what happened to my friend. And this is like ... what's left of him is on my clothes."

Walker told The Associated Press on Saturday that the interview with Kremer was the only time he planned on talking publicly about the Williams' slaying.

Williams, 24, was a rising star who had just completed his second season in the NFL when the stretch limousine he was riding in was sprayed with bullets after leaving a nightclub in downtown Denver where there had been an altercation between people in Williams' group and suspected gang members.

No charges have been filed in the case, although police believe several men in custody on federal drug charges have information about Williams' slaying.

"Real Sports" said another Broncos receiver, Brandon Marshall, and his cousin were partying with Williams' group that night and began spraying champagne around, "some of which hit a club patron and his friend, who confronted Williams and his entourage."

Those men flashed gang signs and were escorted out of the club, said members of a rap group from Williams' hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, who were with him that night.

Walker said he didn't see the encounter inside the club but saw trouble brewing when he left the club at closing time. Marshall and his cousin were exchanging heated words with two men, he said. The rappers said it was the same men who had been kicked out of the club earlier that night.

After Williams and Walker both tried to intervene, Williams told Walker to ride with him in his Hummer limousine, and they drove off into the night, Walker said.

Less than a mile away, Walker said he was turning up the music when Williams suddenly fell into his lap.

Walker said he pushed Williams away and told him to quit messing around -- and that's when he saw blood spurting from Williams' neck and heard the other gunshots.

Walker said he held Williams close and tried to stop the bleeding.

"All I remember at that point in time was he was just looking up at me and I was just like, 'I got you, Dee, I got you, Dee. I got you, Dee,'" Walker recounted. "So, the limo went off the road into the side of the snow. I just remember grabbing him, pulling him out the limo."

Walker said he didn't know if he should run with Williams and worried if "these dudes were going to try to finish us off?"

"You don't know what to think," Walker said, "to have somebody die in your arms and you know you're the last person he hugged."

Walker said he didn't attend Williams' funeral in Fort Worth with the rest of the Broncos "because all it was going to do was just bring back memories of something I didn't want to feel again."

He said it had been hard enough when the Broncos held a private memorial service at team headquarters and he didn't know what to tell Williams' mother, Rosalind Williams, as she hugged him.

Instead, Walker went to Las Vegas, fearful, he said, for his own life in case the shooter wanted to "finish everyone off" who was in the limo.

Walker, who joined the Broncos in a draft day trade from Green Bay last year, said at first he didn't want to keep playing in Denver.

He said he doesn't need any grief counseling but acknowledged he'll probably never put the tragedy behind him: "Maybe when I see him in heaven, I can ask him, maybe put it behind me then."

Coming off a torn knee ligament that wiped out most of his 2005 season, Walker piled up 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns on 69 catches last year.

He's had a stellar training camp and has steadfastly refused to talk about anything other than football. He told The AP on Saturday that last year was just of glimpse of what he can do on the field.

"Obviously, last year I was coming in and trying to rehab and learn the offense and get familiar with my teammates. This year, is just boom, full-speed, all-go ahead," he said. "I feel good. I'm healthy. Nothing's wrong. And I'm ready to take off from a fast start."

I find several aspects of the interview interesting, and once again credit the Broncos for allowing Javon to deal with it as he saw fit, and not the team.  Javon mentions that he did not want to play for the Broncos after the tragedy, a likely reaction, and had the Broncos forced Javon in any way, there's a good chance he would have kept that feeling.

You get the real sense, just through reading teh words, that Javon was truly afraid and honestly still could be afraid for his life.  

The fact that J.W. has yet to wash the blood-stained clothes gives us a glimpse inside the world of Walker.  His make-shift vigil to Darrent Williams is going to be a symbol of strength for Walker, propelling him for the rest of his career.

It reads like it is going to be a moving interview, one that I won't miss for anything.  I also can tell that I will respect Javon Walker even more, and no matter what jersey he wears in the future I will always root hard for his success.

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