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From Basketball To Business: Life Lessons From A Former Spartan

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – As the Spartans prepare to take on the Duke Blue Devils in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA championship, former Michigan State point guard and current basketball trainer Travis Walton says he believes the team can and will go all the way.

"If you ever ask me, I will always say we're going to win the national championship," says Walton. "We're going to play against a really good Duke team, but I think we're prepared and we're ready, and I think it's going to be a great game. It's going to be like the 2005 game when Duke and Michigan State played, and it was really close and we ended up winning."

Walton is no stranger to victory. The three-time team captain led the Spartans past the Final Four to the 2009 national championship against North Carolina. "That run was just magical," says Walton. "Nobody would have thought that we would have gotten back to a Final Four—let alone be playing North Carolina in the championship game."

Walton says he won't travel to watch the game tonight, as commitments for his new basketball training company (www.twdevelup.com) will occupy his time. "I've been taught by so many great coaches, and I want to be a coach one day," he says. "So I thought, ‘what better way to get started than to start my own business?'"

Right now, Walton trains between 70 and 100 children, helping them reach their next basketball skill level. "It was God's plan for me to teach His children, to build up His community, to build up his future kids," he says.

In addition to basketball skills training, Walton says he tries to also impart lessons of hard work, dedication and commitment. "Basketball is not just on the court, it's life…hard work," which he says is one of the many qualities he's hoping the young man who fills the shoes he once wore, will exhibit tonight.

"I love [Keith] Appling. He's [like] my little brother," says Walton. "I think he's an improving leader. All of our point guard are our leaders, our communicators because that's the [Tom] Izzo way."

And no matter what happens on the court Friday night, Walton says he knows the lessons learned go far beyond the final buzzer.

"You have to be resilient…you also have to have confidence," he says. "That's a big component of being a really good basketball player and being successful in life. I know if I put the hard work in and believe in myself, I can accomplish anything."

Emerald Morrow is a reporter with WLNS-TV. Reach out to her on Facebook, Twitter or email at emorrow@wlns.com.

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