Derrick Walter Jr., affectionately known as “DJ,” has the rare gift of bridging the gap between student-athletes and the rest of the student body. His kindness and willingness to serve permeates on and off the court. As the Vice President of Oklahoma Christian University’s Black Student Union (BSU), Walter has limited time for his school work and social life. However, he said he makes time for important aspects of life. Through this role, Walter attends weekly meetings and volunteers at countless events.
Walter has devoted most of his life to playing basketball. At the young age of four, he began playing for Oklahoma Prime Time, an organization that launched his amateur career. As a freshman in high school, Walter started on the Midwest City basketball team, eventually becoming a star on the court. He played through his senior year, becoming an all-state player and landing a scholarship at Oklahoma Christian. Despite facing a cardiovascular issue during his freshman year, Walter has also made a name for himself at the collegiate level.
On top of Walter’s involvement at Oklahoma Christian, last year he heard the calling to become a minister. Since then, he has served as an associate minister at Fairview Missionary Baptist Church, his home congregation in Oklahoma City. As the son of two ministers, grandson of one minister and great-grandson of another, Walter grew up in church. However, he said his family never pressured him to become a preacher. He heard the calling and ran with it.
Q: What has been the most challenging part of your time at Oklahoma Christian?
A: When I went to go take my physical, they said that I had a cardiovascular issue. The blood flow to my heart wasn’t efficient. That devastated me because basketball was something that I loved. That was when I knew that life was bigger than basketball. Even though it was frustrating, I started to look at things differently. Brian Simmons told me, ‘DJ, you’re more than just a basketball player. You know that, right?’ I didn’t know what God was trying to tell me at the time but I felt like that was the message, that I am more than a basketball player. Life goes on.
Q: When did you hear the call to become a preacher?
A: Around this time last year is when I found out that God was calling me to preach. I’d mimic my grandfather, and when my great-grandfather was alive I remember on Christmas I was dancing, and he told me, ‘Son, you need to stop all that dancing and go back to preaching.’ So it’s ironic that I am preaching now. As I look back, everything that was said to me or has happened in my life is all working toward God’s plan, and it is still going. But it is almost a year of me being in the ministry preaching, and all I can say is that God is good.
Q: What was it like growing up with so many relatives who worked as ministers?
A: Sunday mornings I was there for Sunday school all the time, church all the time for the regular service. Bible study, I was there. Any of the activities going on with the youth, I was there. That was fun because, with other youth around, they were all my friends. I was there kicking it. We’d have field trips. It was like as a kid, ‘Yeah, you’re going to church.’ I had no options there. Now did I go to sleep in church? Yes, of course.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: That is where I’m in a frustrating state of being right now. I’m in a frustrating state because that is what I don’t know. I don’t know how far basketball is going to take me, I don’t know if I’m going to go overseas and get paid for it right out of college. I know I might not be pastoring anywhere right out of college, so it’s like I don’t know where my source of money is going to come from. But I’ve been reading and praying, and I just trust God in the process of it all. Really, I like to say that it is God’s plan for whatever I’m going to do.
Q: What is it like being a minister at 19?
A: At times it gets kind of discouraging because not a lot of people understand what is going on in your life. Sometimes you won’t even understand. I’m still a 19-year-old kid who wants to have fun, who wants to go out to parties. The difference is I’m trying to help people out that go out too much. I’m trying to be a difference in their life. And I can’t be the difference if I am doing the same things they are doing. That’s where the frustrating part comes in, but like I said I just trust God in the process.
Q: What is your mantra? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
A: Waking up and knowing that God has a plan for me. First, waking up is a blessing because not everybody wakes up and life is so short. So just waking up and having a brand new day is my motivation. If God blesses me to see another day, it’s only right to give him thanks by doing something in your life about it. Just give it back to him, what he’s blessing you with. I feel like that’s really my motivation. I live the Scripture, but that’s really my motivation.
Q: NBA or NCAA?
Q: Work hard or play hard?
A: Work hard
Q: TikTok or Vine?
Q: Chance the Rapper or Kanye?
Q: If it is a Saturday night, do you stay in or go out?
A: I love my sleep, so I stay in. Friday nights are the ones to go out