Florida Gator Erving Walker, Pride of CBRE
Daniel Edward Rosen March 16, 2012, 11:34 a.m.
When the Florida Gators take on the University of Virginia in today’s NCAA tournament, there will be a dedicated group of professionals from CBRE who will keep their eyes glued to the screen as they root for a tiny and tough point guard to guide the Gators to victory.
That’s because the guard in question, 5-foot-8 Erving Walker, is the son of proud mom (and proud CBRE-er) Kim Woodruff-Walker.
While he prepares for this afternoon’s game against the UVA Cavaliers, which could be the senior point guard’s final contest as a Florida Gator, Ms. Woodruff-Walker said her son is very calm, cool, and collected, as he often is.
“He doesn’t get too excited,” Ms. Woodruff-Walker told The Commercial Observer.
“I spoke to him today, he seems like Erv – very calm.”
As is the case with most of her son’s games, a good group of her colleagues at CBRE are sure to steal a brief moment to check up on the game.
“They keep up with the sports and they know Erv and they support him,” she said. “Erv loves it here.”
Mr. Walker grew up in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, where as a young child he took an immediate shining to basketball.
“He used to go down to the gym and play with his father when he was, like, 3 years old, and he [the father] would come back and say ‘Erving can shoot,”’ said Ms. Woodruff-Walker. “I was like, ‘yeah, just an exaggerated, happy dad.’”
Both parents entered Walker at an afterschool basketball program, and that’s when Ms. Woodruff-Walker saw her son’s potential.
“Much to my surprise, he was pretty good at 5,” she said. Despite his age –players had to be 7 to play on the team– Mr. Walker was allowed to play and “held his own” against the older competition, she added.
Mr. Walker eventually ended up at Christ the King, the storied Queens high school where NBAers both past and present, like Lamar Odom and Speedy Claxton, once played. It was a school where he wanted to end up.
“Erving knew what he wanted in terms of basketball,” she said. “His father and I supported him and guided him, of course, but he was very aggressive about what he wanted.”
Despite standing at 5-8, Walker still continued to impress coaches and competitors alike with his determined and gritty play.
“[He’s] always having to prove himself because of that,” said Ms. Walker. “Every step of the way it was ‘he’s too little, he can’t do it at the next level,’” she added. “His size is always a topic.”
Size didn’t matter in the eyes of some the nation’s biggest college basketball programs. St. John’s, Villanova, University of South Carolina all came calling.
But it was a visit to the University of Florida that helped Mr. Walker come to a decision.
“He wanted to go to Florida and play for [coach] Billy Donovan,” said Ms. Walker.
He started his Gators career in 2008 as a sparkplug off the bench, averaging over 24 minutes and 10 points a game. As his career progressed, so did his stats and his point guard skills. This season he is average 12 points and 4 assists per game as the starting point guard.
“He knows the floor and his teammates, he knows how to pass, and I think he shoots very well,” his mom said. He was also grew to become an effective leader. “He’s very quiet and stoic, he’s hard to read. He doesn‘t get too excited or emotional. He has one game face and one game face only,” she added.
Ms. Woodruff-Walker, who just celebrated her fifteenth year at CBRE last month, was working in group sales and marketing for the NY Times’ magazine department before she decided to switch careers.
“Advertising was wild, very active, creative, I worked long hours,” she said. As Erving grew, she needed a job that had took less of her time. The husband of a NY Times colleague of hers worked at what was then CB Richard Ellis and put her in touch with him.
Moving into her new role as an executive assistant at a big commercial real estate brokerage firm was an adjustment, she admits. But working for Glenn Issacson, an exec who she’s been with for nearly her entire CBRE career, has made her feel like she was part of the CBRE family.
“Erving gets a lot of support around here,” she said. “Especially Glenn, that’s his buddy.”
Mr. Issacson has come with her to games at Gainesville, and with other colleagues have watched her son’s games at nearby sports bars after work.
The strength of Ms. Woodruff-Walker’s game, she said, is that she is a loving mom.
“Erving is my friend, I like him as a human being,” she said. “I am a mommy first, and I always told him ‘the day you don’t want to play ball, you don’t have to.’”
As this is Mr. Walker’s final season at Florida, his basketball future is up in the air. Mr. Walker, who is majoring in sports management, definitely wants to be involved in sports, be it on or off the court.
A career in commercial real estate brokerage may not be out of the question to the open-minded Erving, but he “lives and breathes sports.”
But Ms. Woodruff-Walker and those at CBRE are sure to keep a close eye on the television and root for Erv to finish his final season as a national champion.