RedHawk overcomes adversity en route to successful career on and off the basketball court
By Jesús F. Jiménez, assistant director of digital content
During his first year as Miami University’s men’s head basketball coach, Jack Owens remembers Dalonte Brown, then a first-year student, complaining that Oxford was too quiet.
“I had to tell him, ‘Dalonte, quiet is good,’” Owens recalls. “‘That means you’re OK – it means you’re safe.’”
Growing up in what he calls “the most dangerous part of Toledo” and without his father, Dalonte was motivated by two goals: to overcome the negativity he saw all around him and, if he ever had kids of his own, to be the father he never had.
Fast-forward four years. Dalonte is now a father of two boys and on pace to become the first person in his family to earn a college degree.
He credits Miami University for changing his life. He may have never gotten that opportunity if not for student-athlete scholarships.
“A lot of people doubted me,” Dalonte said. “I always knew in my head that I wanted to be different and better myself.”
You can support student-athletes like Dalonte by attending A Night “in” for Red and White, a virtual auction supporting student-athlete scholarships, on April 9.
Can’t go outside
From working multiple jobs to braiding hair as a side gig, Dalonte’s mother, Lakeisha Allen, did everything she could to raise Dalonte and his four siblings. It was no easy task keeping them safe.
“You can’t go outside and play basketball on the rim, or go out to the movies, because every time I look out there’s something going on,” Lakeisha said.
Gangs. Drugs. Violence. Many of Dalonte’s closest friends were consumed by it all.
“I had to break bonds with people. I had to cut a lot of people out, people who didn’t have my best interest.”
Sports provided an outlet.
Dalonte grew up playing football and basketball. After he fractured his arm in middle school, he decided to focus on basketball. At Toledo Bowsher High School, he averaged a double-double and surpassed the 1,000-point milestone, earning City Player of the Year honors. He also qualified for the state finals in track and field, clearing 6 feet, 9 inches on the high jump.
Playing to potential
He started getting offers to play in college.
“He was thinking about going somewhere closer to home, but I said if you can get out of Toledo it would be better for both you and me,” Lakeisha said.
Dalonte was one of Owens’ first recruits. The coach saw a lot of potential and wanted him to be a part of turning around a program that hadn’t enjoyed a winning season since 2009. As long as he took care of his academics, Dalonte was going to play right away.
Despite being “quiet,” Oxford quickly became home. Dalonte did everything his coaches asked for academically and delivered on the court, earning a spot on the Mid-American Conference All-Freshmen Team after leading the team in rebounds.
Still, it took a while for player and coach to trust each other.
“Once we got to know each other, he understood that I had his best interest at heart,” Owens said. “He understood that he could grow with our staff and our program and make the best of his situation here at Miami.”
“Miami has done a lot for Dalonte,” his mother said. “It’s made him more mature, he’s developed living skills on his own, it’s helped him build leadership skills.”
But life wasn’t finished challenging him.
During the summer workouts before his sophomore season, Dalonte found out he would be a father.
He was determined to be both the best father and student-athlete possible.
Dalonte Jr. was born in August 2018. In March of this year, his second son, Myzelle, was born.
“He’s a loyal person and his kids have been added motivation for him to be successful, but I told him, to be able to do the things that he wants to do, he just has to continue to be smart,” Owens said. “I know he loves his kids and they’re important to him.”
A changed life
In January, Dalonte became the 37th RedHawk to surpass 1,000 points in his career. His 1,229 points rank 21st all-time in team history. As a senior, he ranked sixth in the MAC for his team-leading 171 rebounds, and he was second on the team with 13.5 points per game. Most importantly, Dalonte helped the RedHawks earn their first winning season in 12 years.
“He’s a guy who means a lot to the program,” Owens said. “He’s been through a lot, it hasn’t been easy, but he’s been able to stick it out. He’s a guy who works extremely hard on and off the court. He’s definitely a success story.”
And he’s not done yet.
When the COVID-19 pandemic ended the 2019-2020 season early, all NCAA student-athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility. As a result, he hopes to play next year. After that, only time will tell, but Dalonte and Owens see professional basketball in his future.
“Honestly, it was an easy decision for me to pick Miami,” Dalonte said. “When I came down on my visit, coach kept telling me I could come here, and it could change my life. Having a degree from Miami is one of the best things I could do coming from where I’m from.”