Bill Walton Married Wife Lori After ‘Bitter Divorce’ From College Sweetheart

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Getty Bill Walton with his wife Lori Matsuoka Walton.

NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton was married to his second wife, Lori Matsuoka Walton, at the time of his death on May 27, 2024.

He married Lori 33 years prior after what The New York Times Magazine called a “bitter divorce” from his first wife, Susie Guth Walton, the mother of his four sons.

Walton died of cancer at the age of 71, surrounded by his family, according to a statement from the NBA.

“Bill Walton was truly one of a kind,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in the statement. “As a cherished member of the NBA family for 50 years, Bill will be deeply missed by all those who came to know and love him. My heartfelt condolences to Bill’s wife, Lori, his sons Adam, Nate, Luke, and Chris, and his many friends and colleagues.”

All of the boys played college basketball; Luke joined the NBA. You can read more about the couple’s sons here.

The UCLA Bruins added that Bill Walton had “three grandchildren, Olivia, Avery Rose and Chase.”

In 2016, Walton, already married to Lori for years at that time, told GQ, “I never thought that I’d be pain-free. And I never thought I’d be happy in love. And I have both of those right now. And those are really hard things to achieve. And that doesn’t just happen. Because somebody has to love. And while I’m happy in love, I can’t speak for my wife.”

Bill Walton’s First Wife, Susie Walton, Is a Parenting Coach Who Says She ‘Loved Being Married to Bill’

Walton’s first wife, Susie Guth Walton, discussed their marriage in a 2001 New York Times Magazine article. They divorced in 1989, according to SI Vault.

Susie Guth Walton’s Facebook cover photo shows her with her four sons with Bill.

“Susie Walton lives in a modest house in Del Mar, a pristine community that looks over the Pacific,” The Times reported. “A handsome woman at 50, she teaches parenting classes. For two hours, Susie talks about her 19 years with Walton. Her tone veers from affection to anger, punctuated at times by expletives and at other times by a hearty, infectious laugh.”

They met in college, the outlet reported. “I thought he was a geek, but he had a great heart, so I went out with him,” Susie Walton told The Times.

“Susie says that their bitter divorce affected her boys for years,” The Times reported, quoting Susie Walton as saying, “I loved being married to Bill. Sure, he was dorky, but I had the most fun times.”

“Susie currently resides in the San Diego suburb of Del Mar, California where she has been providing parenting education for the past 19 years,” her biography reads for a book she authored on parenting.

“As a recipient of the San Diego Parent Educator of the Year award, Susie has become a leading expert in the field of communication and relationships with an emphasis on family dynamics. Susie has been interviewed on a variety of radio shows, television segments and newspaper articles,” it says.

“Some of her own past publications include; ‘Take the Work out of homework.’ ‘Terrific Two’s’ and ‘Deserving Children, Deserving Parent.’ Today, in addition to providing seminars, workshops and full-length parenting classes, Susie runs Indigo Village, which provides parenting and personal development education in support of parents and families,” the bio says.

“Her dream is to one day have villages all across the world, supporting families everywhere. Susie continues her dream by working with a number of organizations and corporate entities to develop awareness while implementing practical and positive change.”

Bill Walton’s 2nd Wife, Lori Walton, Met the Basketball Player at a Party

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GettyBill Walton and Lori Matsuoka in March 2023.

The New York Times described Lori Walton as being “in her mid-30’s, a tiny, beautiful woman of Japanese ancestry,” quoting Walton as saying, “She’s an American. That’s all you need to know.” He wouldn’t tell the Times her age or when they married.

“We met at a party at my house 11 years ago,” he told the Times. “She went to U.C.L.A., and she’s a Deadhead, what more do you need to know?”

Walton described how Lori gave him encouragement as he recovered from spinal surgery to repair back problems so severe he could hardly get off the floor.

In an interview with the Advanced Medical Technology Association, Walton said, “During my recovery, there were endlessly long stretches when I didn’t feel like I was making any progress at all. But my wife, Lori, knew otherwise. That’s when I started finding the little Post-it notes in unexpected places around our house that she had left for me. Little yellow notes with simple – but incredibly powerful – messages written on them.”

According to that article, “Lori chronicled Bill’s small yet significant recovery milestones note by note: Today you were able to sit on the edge of the bed. Today you were able to dress yourself. Today you were able to eat sitting up. Today you went from your wheelchair to your walker. Today you went from your walker to your cane. Today you were able to bend down and pet the dogs. Today you were able to put your own shoes and socks on.”

Lori Walton Is a ‘Philanthropy Editor,’ According to Her Instagram Page

On Instagram, Lori Walton describes herself as a “Philanthropy Editor” who also works with service dogs for wounded military veterans.

“I have always loved the nonprofit world so when the opportunity came up for me to become the Philanthropy Editor for Giving Back Magazine, I was ecstatic!” she wrote on her website. “There are so many good people and nonprofits in the world that it’s my absolute honor to highlight them every week in the ‘Feel Good Friday’ column.”

She added on the site, “Right out of college, I worked in corporate America and made good money but I never felt fulfilled with what I was doing.”

She sometimes wrote about her husband on Instagram. In 2023, she wrote, “Last night, Bill mentioned that he knew Tony Bennett….. I asked Bill where he met him; he said Tony sang the national anthem with Jerry at a Giants game ❤️ Well, of course, how else would Bill have met Tony Bennett 😂”