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John Wall talks about his rehab, college graduation goals at his sixth annual backpack drive

The Washington Wizards guard gave 500 backpacks away to low income families last Saturday. He also spoke to the media about his rehab from an Achilles injury and his goal to graduate from college.

John Wall speaks to media in Capitol Heights, Md. on Saturday, Aug. 3 during his annual backpack giveaway.
Desmond Hester

On Saturday, August 3, 2019, 500 local DMV children and their families gathered at the sixth annual John Wall Family Foundation’s backpack drive in Capitol Heights, Md. For the first time since the inaugural giveaway in 2013, the event was held at Dave & Buster’s, where children were able to join the Wizards All-Star point guard in unlimited private access to the facility’s games.

For Wall, the son of a local Washington, D.C. native, the annual event continues to be one of the highlights of his summer.

“To be able to play in Washington, D.C. where my Dad is from, and being able to give back is a big opportunity for me,” said Wall. “I try as much as possible to be hands on in the community and do a lot.”

Wall went on to share his understanding of the impact he has on his fans and community through his use of social media, which is why he strives to keep a clean image.

“A lot of kids look up to us and I think with every move we make, we understand that the kids and people are watching. Where I came from, I never had the opportunity to meet a celebrity. So for me to be one of those guys that people look up to, I try to keep a positive energy both on and off the court.”

In the spirit of giving back to the community by helping its children get ready for the upcoming school season, Wall shared that he himself is also going “back to school.” While he has put forth tremendous effort in rehabilitating his partially torn Achilles tendon and staying in shape,

Wall is also taking advantage of his time off of the court to earn a degree in Business Management from the University of Kentucky. Wall has two more years left to complete the degree, and starts courses next Thursday.

“The most important thing that I wanted to do is to fulfill the promise that I made to my Dad before he passed that I would go back to college and get a degree,” he shared. “My sister is the first one from my family to get a degree — I want to be the second one.”

When asked about his thoughts on the rehabilitation of his partially torn Achilles tendon and if it has been harder to recover compared to other injuries he’s sustained, Wall confidently answered “no, not for me. It’s been cool for me.”

“I think the difference for me is that I didn’t really rupture my Achilles all the way through, I only had a partial tear. So it’s different from what most people had in the past. I don’t have that long scar on the back of my leg; I have a baby scar.”

Wall, who signed a massive four-year, $170 million dollar contract in July of 2017 (set to begin at the start of the 2019-2020 season), suffered his Achilles injury at a crucial point during the Wizards 2018-19 season that will likely have him on the bench throughout the upcoming year.

The injury was sustained at an unfortunate time for the team and its fans who were hoping to make a push for the playoffs last season, and left many questioning whether the five time All-Star actually deserved the extension in the first place.

When asked whether he has had time to reflect on his contract, injury and the financial security he has compared to other players who suffered similar injuries but could not secure a contract, Wall said, “sometimes you can bank on yourself, sometimes it’s not good to bank on yourself. It’s a hard decision to make.”

“I don’t regret it. I hear a lot of people talk about how I have the worst contract in the NBA, and that’s fine. I feel like when I was playing, everybody said I deserved it. Now that I’m injured, everybody says that I don’t deserve it. So all of those critics that keep talking, keep that same energy in a couple years.”