Tide player honors memory of friend

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 22, 2006


TUSCALOOSA – All the uncertainty of who will be the next head coach at Alabama couldn’t mean less to Wallace Gillberry this week.

His mind is on two things: coping with the loss of his best friend, and finding a way to honor his memory.

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Montre Devron Walker, 25, died last Saturday in Birmingham after he was shot accidentally by another friend, who was showing off his gun.

An athlete, Walker graduated from Lowndes Central High School in 2000, where he was a football standout.

He also was the baseball team’s videographer and a member of the Chess Club.

He walked on and played football with the Crimson Tide, and pledged Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

He was with his fraternity brothers when the accident occurred.

Gillberry said he would be attending his friend’s funeral in Mosses on Saturday, then flying out to rejoin the team in preparation for the Dec. 28 PetroSun Independence Bowl.

The Tide faces the Oklahoma State Cowboys in their final game of the season under interim coach Joe Kines at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN.

The Tide defensive lineman knew Walker well.

They were initiated into the Beta Eta chapter of Omega together.

On his way to practice Thursday, Gillberry paused his cell phone conversation to sign an autograph.

He said he wanted to “do something special” to remember his best friend, who loved Alabama football.

“I have so many fond memories of him. I want to do something, but I don’t know what it’s going to be yet,” Gillberry said. “I may wear something with a number five on it. That was his line number.”

A native of Baldwin County, Gillberry was a freshman when Walker left the Tide to concentrate on his books.

The two developed a special bond when they pledged Omega together.

He said the two used to compete on the barbecue grill, staging their own cook-offs.

“I was serious. He tried to be,” Gillberry laughed.

“We would have two grills side by side and go at it. We called it the Iron Chef match.”

Gillberry recalled how Walker would critique his play on the defensive line.

He wanted Gillberry to pick up where he left off from his stellar season a year ago.

“You should have seen him at the frat house after the Auburn game,” Gillberry said. “We didn’t win but he was happy I had those sacks. He was happy for me.”

In Walker’s honor, Gillberry said he did know what the Cowboys’ offense could expect.

“I’m gonna act a fool. That’s what my dog wanted me to do every Saturday,” Gillberry said.

“I’m gonna miss him, but I feel like he’ll be with me in Shreveport.”