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Jordan Walsh Alopecia: Meet the Arkansas player raising awareness for hair loss condition

By Dan Treacy,

2023-03-23

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It's hard to win critical games in March with three freshmen playing key roles, but Eric Musselman has found the right blend of veterans and young pieces on his way to a third consecutive Sweet 16 at Arkansas.

One of those freshmen, five-star recruit Jordan Walsh, is playing for something bigger than basketball. The forward has dealt with alopecia throughout his life and is working hard to set an example for children, teenagers and anyone else who has the condition. And he is far from the first athlete to deal with it.

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As Walsh looks to help Arkansas reach a third consecutive Elite Eight and potentially the program's first Final Four since 1995, The Sporting News takes a closer look at his condition and his efforts to raise awareness.

Who is Jordan Walsh?

Walsh is a freshman forward for Arkansas. Born in Texas but a graduate of a Missouri high school, Walsh was a five-star recruit and was part of a huge 2022 recruiting class for Musselman that included Nick Smith Jr. and Anthony Black.

Despite a crowded frontcourt in Fayetteville, Walsh has stepped right into a major role this season with 22 starts in 35 games. He's averaging 7.2 points and 4.0 rebounds. He contributed 10 points and two steals in Arkansas' upset victory over Kansas in the second round.

MORE: Updated schedule, TV channels for every Sweet 16, Elite Eight game

What is alopecia?

Alopecia is a condition in which "the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles," according to the National Institutes of Health . This causes patches of hair to fall out and not grow back. Depending on which type of alopecia a person has, they may lose patches of hair or not have any hair entirely.

Walsh says he has dealt with alopecia from a young age. While videos from his high school career show him with patches of hair, he currently does not have hair. Walsh has been open about trying to erase the stigma surrounding being bald.

A handful of well-known athletes have dealt with alopecia, including Charlie Villanueva, Ryan Shazier and Josh Dobbs.

Walsh told Athlete Advocate Consortium his advice to young people dealing with alopecia is to "be yourself at all times and always love yourself."

MORE: Updated national championship, Final Four favorites, sleepers ahead of Sweet 16

Jordan Walsh's efforts to raise awareness about alopecia

Walsh has a shoulder to lean on at Arkansas: women's basketball player Rylee Langerman also deals with alopecia. Walsh and Langerman recently helped celebrate the release of "Beanies, Ball Caps, and Being Bald," a book that tells the real story of a boy from Arkansas with alopecia.

Just as Walsh is helping children learn how to deal with the stress and stigma that comes with the condition, he was helped by another famous person with the condition. Walsh called former NBA player Charlie Villanueva a "mentor" in a 2021 interview with Jabari Johnson and said Villanueva helped teach him how to become comfortable in his own skin.

MORE: Watch NCAA Tournament games live with Sling TV

For anyone dealing with alopecia, Walsh could become their next great role model as he tries to help lift Arkansas to glory on college basketball's biggest stage.

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