A Class Act: Dahntay Jones
written by iman n. milner
Still beaming with the glow of new found marital bliss, Valeisha Butterfield and Dahntay Jones are content. Their love shows like that of a high school couple, she the beautiful class president, him the surprisingly laid back jock with the barely above a whisper speaking voice. For many, Valeisha is a new face in media; however, Dahntay has been a media fixture since his days as a Blue Devil at the prominent Duke University. After nearly 15 seasons with the NBA, the baby faced baller has finally arrived at a place in his life where he is the man he always knew he could be. As a father, husband and surrogate big brother to the players coming into the league today, Dahntay Jones has emerged into a real class act.
Edge: So tell me a little bit about who you were prior to our introduction to you through Duke.
Dahntay: I graduated from high school at 16 years old and I was making a decision between a few different colleges. I had 5 ivy league academic scholarships and 14o Division 1 scholarships but I really wanted to stay close to home because I was only 16. Our state university, Rutgers, had a coach who I was very familiar with, they had a good program that they were trying to revap. So after visits to a couple schools that I really didn’t like, I decided to stay close to home and ultimately signed early with Rutgers.
Edge: How did you eventually end up at Duke?
Dahntay: The coach ended up getting into some trouble and we couldn’t get new recruits so I had to make a decision to stay there and be average or try to check out other programs. I just wanted to win. My AAU coach told me that Duke had called and I felt the way most people did and still do-”no, I’m not going to Duke, they’re just privileged little pretty boys and that ain’t me”-but that wasn’t the case. My dad ended up stepping and convincing me to do the visist. When I got there I found that they worked extremely hard, the facility was great, the people were nice and when I got into the room with Coach Krzyzewski, I was sold.
Edge: Coach K sealed the deal for you? Wow. Most people would be surprised to hear that.
Dahntnay: Most people look at Coach K like some mean prick. People respect him because of the championships but they don’t see his personality, they just see a blank man. His personality is overwhelming, the next closest person to him is President Obama. They captivate you. They speak so well. They know how to make you feel warm. You can be in the room with them for two minutes and it feels like 2 hours. That’s Coach K. He sold me on their whole approach. He said, “most people don’t like us but most people don’t like the Yankees, most people don’t like the Lakers. We build ourselves on trying to be our best and to achieve excellence”.After that what else would you do? So, I decided to go to Duke.
Edge: So now, post Duke, a veteran in the league, what would you go back and tell the 16 year old Dahntay?
Dahntay: Life isn’t perfect. Understanding that and not trying to be perfect. It’s a waste of time to try to make everyone happy as long as you can find out what makes you happy.
Edge: Aside from that, what’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned over these past years in the league?
Dahntay: Work hard regardless to if people are watching you. With that ,you develop habits because you never know when people are actually watching you. You think you can gauge it but people are watching the small things and small habits-the things that develop consistency.
Edge: How do you think basketball has shaped or affected you as a man?
Dahntay: It’s attributed to everything that I am. It’s my first love. It showed me patience as a man. It’s showed me how to persevere. It’s taught me all the major life lessons that I needed, it’s still teaching me. The business of basketball can be tough at times but it’s teaching me things I’ll need for the next stage of my life.
Edge: What, if anything, do you tell new guys coming in to the league?
Dahntay: Whenever I have new guys on my team I try small, different outlets and topics. Whether it’s family issues or friend situations…anything that I’ve experienced. I try to give them advice on a personal note whether it be on the bus or just chilling at my house. I try to take my time to help them because the guys before me didn’t really say much to me. Men sometimes can be so competitive that we don’t try to help the next man, I make it my duty to do the opposite. If a rookie comes in and I have 9 years in the league, some other guy may look at him more as competition more than like a person that too can learn from. Those young guys push me to be better. The guys that I came up with were trying to hold me down and lead me in the wrong direction. It’s better to help people than to only help yourself.
Edge: Well you’re more than just an athlete, you are now a husband as well. Tell me your thoughts on marriage.
Dahntay: Love is respect. Love is a sense of being equal, being on the same page. Love is genuine. Love is all day long. I hold so much respect for my wife. That’s why I married her. I respect her goals in life. I respect what she does. I respect how she treats people. That contributes to my overall view of love…especially when it comes to her.
Edge: What do you do to show a woman that she is special to you?
Dahntay: I give her time. Give. Her. Your. Time. Showing her that you care, it’s not the big things–the big things anybody can do. It’s the little things that really show how much you care.
Edge: How did you know Valeisha was ‘the one’?
Dahntay: It was the first time that I couldn’t speak around a woman. Her presence. Everything she was made me that nervous. I’ve only been nervous maybe 2 or 3 times in my life. I knew that there was something special. Her consistency too. You can tell when a person is just genuine. So many people are trying to be something they’re not. She was consistently genuine.
Edge: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about love?
Dahntay: Understanding. The understanding part and learning not to be so selfish. You can’t just think about yourself, you have to first think about how something would make her feel. That’s what keeps us both happy. We don’t really bump heads often because I’m more worried about her and she’s more worried about me. So it’s consistent caring.
Edge: As a newlywed, what do you think is the most important component of marriage right now?
Dahntay: Trust and a foundation of being able to be trusted. We both have careers where we have to spend some time away from each other. I don’t worry about where she is and what she’s doing. I know the person she is and I know she’s going to be that person whether she’s with me or not.
photos by ashley nguyen
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