Carlton Valentine stepped down from his position as Sexton’s boy basketball coach Thursday.
He described it as one of the toughest he’s ever made.
Valentine, who guided the Big Reds to Class B state titles in 2011 and 2012, said he made the decision to spend more time with his family.
His father, who lives in Washington, D.C., is ill. That led to Valentine thinking about the bigger picture, he said. He decided he wanted to spend more time with his sons, who are carving their own careers in basketball. Drew Valentine is an assistant coach at Oakland University. Denzel Valentine is getting set for his rookie season in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls.
“I started thinking I’ve got to spend more time with my family,” Valentine said in a phone conversation Friday morning while in Chicago with his sons. “I’ve got one son that coaches college basketball, and the other son plays in the NBA. You only get to be a dad one time. My dad was such a big influence on me and everything I did. He never missed any of my high school games. He went to all my summer league games. He never missed anything, and he was always there for me.
“Out of all the jobs I’ve ever had, I think being dad is probably the most important one,” he said. “I’ve coached high school basketball, I’ve coached AAU, I’ve done a lot of different things – run camps, do private lessons and trained people. I do a lot of different things, but the most important job that I have is being a dad. My job for now is to be a dad and sit back and enjoy that for a while.”
Valentine isn’t leaving basketball completely. He will run the Nike-sponsored AAU program DV45 Elite, which is based in Michigan and named after Denzel, who recently signed a contract with Nike.
“I’ll be doing that during the spring and summer months when they’re not playing (and coaching),” Valentine said. “That will allow me to still be involved in the game of basketball and helping kids, but not while they are playing and coaching. That’s going to be my way of giving back.”
Coaching high school basketball isn’t in Valentine’s plans for the near future, but he will miss being on the sidelines this winter at Sexton.
Valentine groomed several Division I players while at Sexton, a group that includes his sons, Bryn Forbes, Anthony Clemmons, Jalen Hayes and Nate Duhon. Those relationships with players will stand out to him most from his time guiding the Big Reds.
“Having the chance to go to three straight state finals in 2010, 2011 and 2012 – that was obviously the biggest highlight because everybody wants to win and that’s what people talk about,” Valentine said. “But really, the biggest thing that I’m going to miss is the players. I’ve had several players go on and play in college, and now I’ve got three pros.
“The relationships with the players is probably the thing I’m going to miss the most and then the day-to-day grind. You’ve got to trade that for something else, and I’m trading that for spending more time with (my sons). I know they’ll be busy in their own careers, but at least I’ll have a chance to be there. Sometimes they just need to look up in the stands and see me there. That’s kind of what I’m counting on – being that dad.”