In high school, Walker played football and basketball and competed in track and field. He scored a record-breaking 86 touchdowns as a running back and led his teams to state championships in both football and track, while maintaining an A average.
At the University of Georgia, Walker set an NCAA freshman rushing record and helped capture the national collegiate football title. He earned consensus All-American honors three consecutive years, set 10 NCAA records, 15 Southeast Conference records, 30 Georgia all-time records, and capped a sensational college career by earning the 1982 Heisman Trophy in his junior year.
In 1983, Walker gave up his final year of collegiate eligibility and turned professional, joining the New Jersey Generals of the short-lived United States Football League. Walker dominated the league, earning Most Valuable Player honors and setting the single-season pro football rushing record (2411 yards). After his first pro season, he finished his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Georgia.
Herschel Walker has worked with numerous charitable and educational organizations. In 1981, he became the first Academy of Achievement honor student to return to the annual program as a recipient of the Golden Plate Award. In 2002 he was voted into the Collegiate Football Hall of Fame, and was selected as the second greatest player in college football history, just behind the legendary Red Grange.
In a 2008 memoir, Breaking Free, Herschel Walker revealed that he had suffered for many years from dissociative identity disorder, a mental illness previously known as multiple personality disorder. Some of Walker's alternative personalities, which came to the fore after he retired from professional football, expressed a turbulent, angry side of his nature he had previously suppressed. On occasion, he threatened his wife and others with physical violence, but later had no recollection of these events. As related in his memoir, he eventually recognized the nature of his problem, which may have been rooted in his childhood experience of bullying and ostracism, and sought professional treatment. With psychotherapy, the disorder can be treated, and Walker decided to make his affliction public, to advance understanding of the disorder and encourage others so afflicted to find the help they need.