Bill Walton Has a Gym Named After Him

San Diego sports icon is honored on a facility that he helped raise money for

Bill Walton is a man who does an abundance of charity work in San Diego County. He is not a man who likes taking credit or receiving recognition for it. So when he was approached with the idea that a gymnasium at a new Boys & Girls Club would be named after him, it took a little convincing.

“I said no way, that’s not true!” said Walton. But since he said this on Thursday morning while standing inside that gymnasium it was, indeed, true and there are very few people who are more deserving of such an honor.

“What a fantastic day!” said Walton with his trademark and never ending enthusiasm. “Dreams do come true.”

The look on his face when he walked into the Bill Walton Gymnasium showed pure awe. But it will not just be Bill’s dreams that come true.

The facility is located inside the brand new Brady Family Clubhouse, a 26,000-foot Boys & Girls Club right in the heart of the neighborhood where Walton grew up.

“This was the playground, a gravel playground for the middle school,” said Walton of the patch of land that sits about a par-4 from his alma mater Helix High School. “And now to see what has been built here by Ron and Mary Alice Brady and how spectacular this facility is; the place where young children can come and formulate their dreams and then chase their dreams.”

Ron and Mary Alice Brady donated $3 million towards the nearly $10 million that went into building and setting up an endowment to fund the Clubhouse. The City of La Mesa is offering the land on a 50-year lease with the ability to renew for another 50 years … at $1 per year.

“Kids that will be coming here next month will probably have great grandkids and great grandkids and great grandkids that will come here long after we’re all put to rest,” said Ron Brady.

The club is expected to host 210 kids every day of the week. Walton was heavily involved in the fundraising effort. His involvement made getting this place, with game rooms and a learning academy and a technology room to go along with the 10,000 square foot gym, a slam dunk.

“When you have Bill on your team it makes you work harder,” said Boys & Girls Club C.E.O. Forrest Higgins. “He’s passionate about his community and we want to continue what he got in his childhood. We’re going to replicate that here in this Boys & Girls Club.”

Bill Walton is a man who, even today, kids can look up to. And not just literally.

“He is so exciting to them,” said Mary Alice Brady. “He really is an icon. He’s someone who they can admire and respect and aspire to be some day.”

Bill has said he had “the perfect childhood” growing up in La Mesa and with this honor … he may have finally finished growing up.

“Little Billy from San Diego. I’ve been 6’11” for a long time. Today I feel like I’m seven feet tall.”

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