Paralyzed from the neck down during a 2012 game, Tulane's Devon Walker has remained a large part of the Green Wave's football program, and the university itself.
Before Thursday's season opener, the school showed its respect for Walker by retiring his No. 18 across its entire athletic program.
While the football program had previously highlighted his No. 18 at Yulman Stadium, and on a flag that a player carries out of the tunnel before games, Thursday's gesture took things to another level.
"I don't have the words to describe it," Walker told The Athletic. "I was really content just having the 18 up there [at the stadium]. It really means a lot to me. It means the Tulane community is still behind me. They're still showing me support."
Walker earned his degree in cell and molecular biology in 2014 and received his master's degree in neuroscience three years later. Just hours before he attended his 2014 graduation, the native of Destrehan, Louisiana, signed a one-day contract with the New Orleans Saints and drew praise from coach Sean Payton.
"I'm super proud of his recovery and the way he's handled this and the way he's approached this," Payton said at the time. "Obviously he's been an inspiration to our region, to our community, New Orleans, the Tulane family, and it's carried over to us on the Saints."
In 2013, Walker received the Disney Spirit Award, an honor given annually by Disney Sports to college football's most inspirational figure.
Walker, who is bound to a wheelchair and uses a ventilator to help him breathe, was injured during his senior year when he collided with a teammate. He helped found the Devon Walker Foundation to raise money to help pay for medical treatment and provide equipment for others dealing with similar injuries. He told The Athletic that around $50,000 has been raised.
His efforts haven't gone unnoticed, and Walker is grateful.
"They appreciate not only what I have done, but what I'd tried to embody in myself to show other people who are going through my situation or might be in a different situation and are looking for a reason to keep going and keep being better and improving," he told The Athletic.