Dalton Maldonado was the starting point guard of the 2014-15 Betsy Layne High team in Kentucky. Betsy Layne finished an impressive 21-8 overall, with a 7-1 record in district, and one of the primary reasons for that success was Maldonado. The elusive point guard was a longtime Layne stalwart, earning a spot on the small town squad while still an eighth grader. He earned the team’s starting role as a junior and senior, and he emerged as the team’s leader in part because of the strength he projected.
All of that was tested during a Christmas Tournament in late December, as chronicled in exquisite detail by the always wonderful Out Sports. After a blowout loss to an opponent described as highly ranked, Maldonado was met in the handshake line by an opponent who used an inflammatory and dehumanizing, derogatory term for homosexuals. Maldonado fired back in stride, responding by asking for the opponent’s number, but the damage was done. Maldonado broke down in the Layne locker room and had to admit to his teammates that he was gay, in a setting far from the ideal one he had imagined for his official coming out.
The situation got much worse, and then it got better. Maldonado got on the team bus to a serenade of a word that rhymes with “maggot,” with opposing players then hitting the bus windows. The foes then followed the team bus, making mock shooting motions with their hands. It required a call to the police from a Layne coach’s cell phone to scramble the pursuers and ensure that the team made it back to their hotel safe. Maldonado was given the option to withdraw he and his teammates from the tournament, but he committed to continue. They, in turn, rallied behind him ferociously, even asking him to share the room with the other four starters on future road trips.
Needless to say, Maldonado was touched by the support he received, insisting that it made him stronger and Layne a stronger team.
“To this day I haven’t lost a friend over coming out,” Maldonado told Out Sports. “I’ve actually become closer to them. In fact, the one person in my school and on my team I was scared to tell sung the song ‘Same Love’ to me as he told me he would always be here for me and was proud of me.
“It was then that I realized how truly blessed I was.”
Added Layne assistant coach Brandon Kidd, who confirmed all the details in the story to Out Sports:
“After that incident our team really came together,” Kidd said. “Dalton had often hung out with the younger players. After that happened the senior boys really took to him and they accepted him for who he was. It was one of those stories, where they all bonded together. They didn’t look at him as gay or straight, they just looked at him as their brother.”