10 years later, Oakland coach continues to steer young men on the right path

An Oakland man is continuing his efforts to help current and former athletes navigate life, while also working to keep kids safe.

Todd Walker has worked at Baker Prado Funeral Home in West Oakland for 13 years. 10 years ago, KTVU interviewed Walker while he was coaching the Berkeley Junior Bears football team.

With their parents' permission, Walker would bring the young players to the funeral home and using props, would lecture them about life and death in hopes of keeping these children off the streets. He even had the boys climb into cremation boxes.

KTVU checked in with Walker and some of his former players to see where they are 10 years later.

"It was a life-changing experience 'cause it makes you look at life in a different way. I told him I really appreciate that and it kind of like, it's still in my mind now," said Kaveo Smith, a former football player.

Smith is 19-years-old and was 9-years-old when we last spoke with him. He and his two older brothers, 20-year-old Taveo and 25-year-old Maceo, know the reality of street violence first-hand.

Their father was shot and killed in 2008 near U.C. Berkeley in the parking lot of the Top Dog restaurant.
Now young men, they all still live in the East Bay.

Kaveo and Taveo are looking for work, while Maceo is a full-time student at a local community college studying to enter the medical field.

Taveo says he misses the bond and structure football gave him and says Walker's lessons stayed with him.

"All the life lessons he ever gave us is relevant to this day. It really is," said Taveo. "It goes way past football."

"Whatever we need, we call him," said Kaveo. "He's really there for us and I really appreciate that."

]The eldest brother, Maceo, is now a father himself. The college student says losing his father has given him a different perspective in raising his 4-year-old daughter.

"I try to put my foot down and be solid inside lots of areas I felt like I didn't have because I didn't have him," said Maceo.

As for Walker, the 57-year-old grandfather is no longer coaching but still mentors kids about the same message he delivered a decade earlier.

"Todd stay in contact with everybody. He's not going to lose contact with none of his kids. If it's Facebook or Instagram or phone call or text, he stay in contact with any means necessary to make sure everybody is on track and still doing good," said Tierra Barker, a parent of a former player.

Walker feels the street violence has become worse in the last 10 years in part because of high-powered weapons now available.

"I just can't understand. These kids don't have a driver's license or ID card but they can go get these high-powered weapons," said Walker.

Walker says he is bothered by something now, and has a plea for older generations.

"Grownups got to step up. A lot of people my age got to step up. They on our watch now. So if we don't step up and do nothing, it's going to get worse," said Walker.