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Spend a little time with freshman Dionte Reed, and it quickly becomes apparent that he is a confident young man. But not in a brash, flashy, “look at me” sort of way; his is the quiet confidence of a person who is comfortable in his own skin.

A Quiet Confidence

But, this was not always the case. As a child growing up in Mound City, Dionte spent much of his elementary school years as a bit of an introvert, staying indoors and playing a lot of video games. He had little motivation or interest in sports or the outside world. “I used to not be like I am now,” he says. “I didn’t have much confidence.”

Finally, Dionte’s parents sat him down for a talk. They explained that it wasn’t in his best interest to spend so much time inside, and urged him to get out and try some new things. “That kind of pushed me. Something just sparked in me,” he recalls. Dionte decided then to start working out. He became more active and more fit. He even became more outgoing in his interactions with others.


Today, Dionte is a six-foot, three-inch 15-year-old, with a deep, resonant voice, a ready smile and a polite and friendly demeanor. Usually among the tallest people in the room (if not the tallest), others can sometimes be intimidated by his size and powerful speaking voice. “Normally, people don’t see me as what I am. People look at me as a mean giant. But honestly, I’m a friendly giant,” he says with a shy grin.


In fact, Dionte thinks that his friends would probably describe him as “goofy”. But when it comes to friends, he is seriously committed to them. “Anything a friend might need, I’m there.” He is particularly in tune with his friends' emotions, and interested in helping them get through whatever challenging times they may be facing. “I like to talk to people on a deeper level, because you never know what somebody’s going through,” he explains. “I like to pick their brain, maybe get to the source [of their problem] and find a way to actually get through it.”


Given his height, it’s probably not surprising that Dionte plays basketball (he also runs cross-country). He cites coaches David Davis and Larry Malcolm as big positive influences, on the court and race course, as well as in life. Academically, he enjoys physical science and math, because his teachers make those subjects interesting. But he is quick to add, “I don’t really dislike any teachers. They have a good staff here.”


After high school, Dionte would love to garner a basketball scholarship and earn a bachelor’s degree – preferably at his dream school, Michigan State. But, if he doesn’t become a Spartan, he would like to serve his country by enlisting in the U. S. Marine Corps.


Outside of school, Dionte enjoys travel. On a recent trip to Panama City, Florida with the basketball team, he even acquired a new skill. While visiting the beach with his teammates, he learned to swim in the Gulf of Mexico. “I got very brazen, and went out a ways and went under water,” he relates. But it all worked out, and that experience no doubt served to further bolster his sense of self-assuredness. Everyone, Dionte says, should try to be more confident. Because, “If you try something, you never know if it’ll work, or it won’t work.” Armed with a positive attitude like that, Dionte has what it takes to take on, and conquer, whatever challenges he may face on the road ahead.

People look at me as a mean giant. But honestly, I’m a friendly giant,” he says with a shy grin.
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