The line out the door and wrapping around the Dadeville First United Methodist Church on the final day of January was a testament to the kind of person Walker Bynum was.
People from all over the country — friends as far as Virginia, Tennessee and Alaska — and people from all walks of life — coaches, teachers, former rivals, community members, family — flooded the church to pay their respects to Bynum, who died Jan. 26.
In the sports world, Bynum was best known for being a phenom for the Dadeville Tigers who never met a sport he didn’t excel at.
“He played everything,” said Kyle Caldwell, a former teammate and close friend of Bynum’s. “He played football, baseball, basketball, and he even played tennis. We didn’t even have a tennis team, but he played the necessary number of tournaments to qualify for regionals and states, and then he ended up playing tennis at Faulkner State (now Coastal Alabama).”
Bynum was a wide receiver and outside linebacker for an extremely talented Tiger football team. During the three seasons prior to Bynum’s graduation in 2011, the Tigers went 33-4, making playoff appearances each year.
“He was a great athlete,” Dadeville football coach Richard White said. “He had a lot of injuries he had to overcome, but everything he did for us was wide open. He always did everything to the best of his ability.”
White said one of Bynum’s best qualities was his ability to overcome some of his God-given shortcomings. During high school, White said Bynum stood at only 6-foot and 175 pounds “soaking wet,” but he conquered that with some serious talent and even more heart and dedication.
On the baseball field, Bynum was possibly even more impressive than he was on the gridiron.
“He was the best center fielder I’ve ever seen,” said Caldwell, who spent two years as the Dadeville baseball coach. “He’s one of those guys that if the ball was anywhere in the outfield, he was going after it. There were countless times he crashed into the outfield fence and got right up and threw the ball in.”
Bynum was selected as a Class 4A All-State outfielder as a senior.
After graduating from Dadeville, Bynum attended CACC where his talents went beyond the sports field. He was selected as a CACC ambassador.
“It’s a very high honor to be selected as an ambassador,” said Brett Pritchard, director of public and high school relations at CACC. “In the ambassador program, he always volunteered to do more and always did more than he was asked. You don’t have to have somebody tell you a person’s good; a lot of times their personality comes out, that was Walker.”
One thing a lot of people seem to remember best about Bynum is that personality. Caldwell said he, Bynum and Cameron Carleton, who also played for Dadeville, grew up together and became more like brothers than just friends. Also, another fond memory of Bynum seemed to revolve around his clothing.
“He wore a lot of crazy socks, random hats,” Caldwell said. “That was just Walker. He didn’t care what people thought about him. He was definitely always up for adventure, a free spirit and ready to take a road trip at any time.”
Even Pritchard remembers that happy-go-lucky personality always shining through.
“He was just a wonderful person,” Pritchard said. “He was kind of someone who everyone gravitated to and who everybody wanted to be. He was very likable and had just a great demeanor. Walker never seemed to have a bad day, and there’s not a lot of those people out there in the world.”