Walker Gives Big Thanks Every Turkey Day

USC offensive tackle Aundrey Walker is one of 18 siblings. But he only spends Thanksgiving with two of them. Yet somehow his family's turkey day could feed a small army.

They've already started cooking. It's Wednesday night and Aundrey Walker's family has already been busy in the kitchen for hours.

And they will continue to cook, through the night, and onto the next morning.

"Sometimes we'll be up all night. Sometimes we don't go to sleep until 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning," Walker's mom Andrea Jones said.

To feed Walker's family of 60, sleep isn't an option on this day of thanks.

No, the collard greens need their own time on the stove. The mash potatoes occupy multiple pots. The neverending pies cram themselves onto a large table.

This Thanksgiving, there will be 59 people eating and playing at Auntie Gladys' house in Cleveland, Ohio. While USC prepares to feast on some Bruin in the L.A. Coliseum Saturday for its final game of the 2011 season, Walker's family will be across the country chowing down on too many dishes to count.

"There's more than $1000 worth of food," the true freshman guessed.

And he's probably lowballing that number. Walker has 17 siblings. While he only dines with his two biological sisters on Turkey Day, his mother's family more than makes up the difference.

Jones and her three kids is only one-sixth of the pumpkin pie. Her siblings come aplenty with children; her five sisters have 19 combined. Her brother has two.

If you do the math, Walker has 23 first-cousins. Add in the parents, second-cousins and grandparents, and the Jones family picks one house each year and packs it with a small army of food and people.

"It's not traditional Thanksgiving where everyone is sitting at a table.

"When you're family it doesn't matter if the house is small or not," Jones said.

While there are only about two turkeys in this jam-packed Thanksgiving dinner, the pies and side dishes are the main attention.

"Macaroni and cheese, greens, stuffing, yams, corn on the cob…

"a whole bunch of different things," Jones rattled off.

"You've got to have your cornbread, too, of course," Walker added.

With little sleep and maximum food supply, it'd seem like a chaotic two days for the Joneses.

"It's fun because it's normal. When you're used to doing it it comes second hand," she said.

What isn't normal is Walker missing out on his family's quality time together. Like many football players from various parts of the country, the offensive tackle plans to eat at a teammate's house close to campus.

The true freshman is fine with missing family time to focus on football, but come Thursday evening, he'll long for one thing he can't get anywhere but home: his mama's yams.

"She has the best yams ever. She can beat your yams," Walker beams.

So what's in these yams that makes them the best ever?

Jones line-items the recipe: brown sugar, vanilla, butter, regular sugar. Nothing out of the ordinary, it seems.

"I don't know. I guess it's the way I prepare them," Jones said.

Ah, that secret ingredient must be a little T.L.C. And that's something we can all be thankful for.


USCFootball.com Top Stories