Jabari Walker isn’t much of a ‘gamer’ – but he enjoys spending time with his friends.
Walker, a freshman on the University of Colorado basketball team, saw his pals Dominique Clifford (a fellow freshman) and Jeriah Horne (a senior) enjoying brand new PlayStation 5 video game consoles and decided he’d like to join them.
So, he downloaded the Offer Up app - where both Horne and Clifford bought their highly-sought-after consoles - and made contact with a potential seller.
Walker exchanged texts and videos with a real, live person. Met him at a Wal-Mart parking lot and paid him $800.
He left with a box full of clothes.
“I had never carried a [PlayStation 5] box before,” says Walker. “I didn’t know how heavy it was supposed to be. It wasn’t super light because there were clothes in there which I would find out later.”
Horne and Clifford had joined Walker on the journey to meet, what they would later call, the scam artist
“I was scoping it out. It seemed fine,” says Horne. “It really hurt me, especially because that’s like my little brother. I was there. The whole ride down we were happy and excited and the ride back it was silent. I just wanted to help. I just wanted to make it better.”
While waves of embarrassment and shame crashed over Walker, Horne hatched a plan.
Under a cloak of secrecy, Horne asked the rest of the team if they’d be willing to pitch in money to buy walker the console.
Every single player said yes.
“[The plan] had nothing to do with the coaching staff,” says CU head basketball coach Tad Boyle. “It was all the players and how they care about each other and I think it’s obviously a testament to Jabari and how his teammates feel about him.”
They gifted the PlayStation 5 to Walker in the locker room, showering him with enough love to wash away the embarrassment of being scammed.
“I was in shock,” says Walker. “I didn’t really believe it. I looked around and everybody was involved. Emotions just filled me. I wanted to cry but the tears didn’t come out.”
“I knew it had taken a piece away from him,” says Horne. “I felt like there was something that was missing from my friend, from my teammate, from my brother. To be able to restore that and make him feel even more welcome and comfortable on this team was extremely important.”
Horne helped make Walker whole, but both the young freshman and the grizzled veteran senior learned life lessons.
“At times bad things are going to happen,” says Horne. “But that doesn’t mean you turn around and do something bad to somebody else.”
“My dad said it’s better that it happened now in my life than later on,” says Walker. “He said he wished he had the opportunity to learn from a mistake in college so that he didn’t have to learn from it later on in his professional career.”