49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

September 25, 2013
Anti-DUI crusader Delanie Walker comments on Aldon Smith incident


Delanie Walker, who lost an aunt and uncle to an alleged drunk driver hours after the Super Bowl, has become a crusader against DUIs, particularly when it comes to his fellow NFL players. "It starts with us. It starts with the NFL," the tight end told The Bee in May. "We need to lead by example. And those (DUIs) need to be eliminated."

So you might expect Walker would have strong words for former teammate Aldon Smith, who drove his truck into a suburban San Jose front yard early Friday morning and who was arrested for DUI for the second time in as many years.

Well ...

"He is just a young player," Walker said via the Nashville Tennessean. "A young player who has a lot of money, and things like that occur. If he wasn't a Pro Bowl linebacker, I don't think people would be making a big deal out of it. But he is a Pro Bowl linebacker. So a lot of stuff is being put on top of him. I pray for him because he is a good kid, he is just making some bad choices now."

It should be noted that both Smith and Walker are named in a civil suit filed by men who were shot at sprawling party at Smith's rental home in 2012. The suit alleges that the players, both of whom were members of the 49ers at the time, shot guns in the air to disperse the out-of-control party. Two men were later shot when the party goers were leaving; ballistics tests show neither was shot by Smith or Walker. The Chronicle had more on that incident today.

Hours after watching Walker in the Super Bowl, Alice Young, who had helped raise Walker, was killed along with her husband, Bryan, when they pulled to the side of a highway outside New Orleans. According to police, a 26-year-old woman struck the couple's car from behind at more than 100 mph, causing both vehicles to burst into flames. The driver was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, one count of driving while intoxicated and one count of reckless operation of a motor vehicle.

Walker was a free agent in March and signed with the Titans. He also became involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), adopting the group's cause to eradicate drinking and driving. "I'm trying to open up people's eyes," he said earlier this year of DUIs. "If I can keep one person from drinking and driving, I feel I'll have done my job."

His appraisal of Smith, however, is similar to that of Smith's current 49ers teammates. Justin Smith, one of the 49ers' team captains this year, said he wasn't concerned about his defensive teammate.

"He's got his head on straight," Justin Smith said. "Sometimes stuff just happens. If everybody went looking through everybody's past, you'd find some stuff on everybody, even the people asking the questions. So, not concerned."

Aldon Smith has since checked into a rehabilitation facility for an indeterminate amount of time. CSN Bay Area reported today that the 49ers will continue to pay Smith his full salary while he seeks help. The NFL also is expected to discipline Smith after the DUI case is adjudicated.

- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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