• Ursula Vari

A LION’S SON: CONVERSATION WITH “MR. MOVES” DALLION KING

NAME: DALLION KING AKA MR. MOVES

HOMETOWN: NEW YORK, NEW YORK

CURRENTLY IN: LOS ANGELES

OCCUPATION: PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER


At 23, Dallion King has already achieved more than most despite all odds of coming from a broken home. He has been drafted twice into the Dominican Republic’s national team, he is the CEO of “Mr. Moves”, an athletic brand, he is a skills trainer and the founder-director of Simple Things, a charity whose aim is to provide basic necessities to underprivileged communities around the world .


Hailing from the Lower East side, with a brief stint in Cliffside Park, NJ King taught himself how to hoop by watching YouTube videos at the age of twelve. He was driven. Despite being constantly bullied and jumped, he would show up to school an hour early just to practice his newly acquired moves. Basketball was his therapy, a way out from the challenges of growing up without a father and the frequent harassment in school. It made him strong and resilient. King eventually made his way back to Harlem to hoop at the Courtney Callender playground perfecting his skills. That’s where people started to notice him for his precisely orchestrated moves giving him the name “Mr. Moves”. Then later at Dyckman Park the old timers began to respect and encourage him. King soon found himself at the Montclair State University with a scholarship for writing. It was orientation day and a group of freshmen along with King went around to tour the school and somehow he broke away from the group spending 12 hours at the gym hooping. King didn’t notice the passage of time until one of his peers came to get him after the orientation was long over. These were exciting times not only with the promise of school but because King reconnected with his father, dancehall, reggae legend Mad Lion who eventually moved him to California.

It was at the Venice Beach courts in 2018 where he first got a taste of what’s it like to play in the Veniceball League when they threw him in the deep water during the playoff games where he repped Project Blackboard. His performance and drive got him noticed and helped get the team into the championship. At this year’s World Games King played for the Irvine Meanmugs and although his team didn’t make it into the championship he again proved himself as skilled baller who plays a very “clean” game. Mr. Moves still arrives to every game an hour early just like he did way back when he first courted basketball after watching Youtube tutorials. His sense of responsibility and desire to pay it forward is evident when tells me the story of watching kids play basketball in the slums with no shoes on- and how he was moved to tears to learn that the children simply didn’t have shoes. From that revelation in the Dominican Republic, his charity Simple Things was born and this young man is hell-bent on improving the lives of the less fortunate – a great inspiration to follow. I sat down with Dallion on an early Thursday evening to ask him my questions.

You play in the Dominican Republic National Team. How did you end up playing internationally?


Instagram played a huge part. I continued posting and promoting and my page fell in the right hands at the right time. Boom and I finally got my shot.


What made you choose basketball over the other sports?


Growing up I played a lot of sports recreationally with the other kids, but basketball was the one sport that made me feel happy, almost blissful. I’m talented athletically meaning I can play many sports. Basketball was the one sport I wanted to master and play. Every-time I picked up a basketball and started dribbling, it felt like I was dancing on water. I loved it and still do.


What were the challenges/obstacles that you had to overcome early in your career, can you give us a story/example?


A major obstacle was that I didn’t play high school basketball or AAU. I was homeschooled so I can train all day. So what I did was every time I heard about a showcase or basketball event I just pulled up and acted like I was invited. Warmed up and did wild stuff so they just gave me jerseys to play because they thought I was one of the players. Ended up getting caught but my game was respected so took my information and ended up ranking me amongst the elite at that period of time.


Did you have a mentor/ guide who was instrumental in who you have become today?


My mentors in my life were my older cousins, Danny and Ariel. I didn’t grow up with much family around me. So I was alone most of the time, but the times my cousins were around they did everything they could to groom me into a better basketball player and man. I owe pretty much everything to them.

What was it like to reconnect with your father after all those years?


It was like looking into a mirror 20 years in the future. At first, I still had a lot of unanswered questions then I started seeing that I was just like him without having to be raised by him. He’s my best friend at this point. It definitely helped me heal some wounds of my past.


What lessons did you learn and Dyckman Park? What was your experience playing at such an iconic place?


Playing at Dyckman Park is like playing with lions. Nobody feels sorry for you and everyone has a chip on their shoulder trying to earn a name. Being 16-17 playing with grown men it was definitely character building. In Dyckman you learn how to be a man and learn from mistakes and make up for them. If you get embarrassed you shake it off and get at them. Teaches you how to be a punk and develop thick skin. Qualities not many people let alone hoopers have nowadays.


What’s your pre-game ritual?


Stretch, stretch and stretch, lol listen to very aggressive rap playlist I put together while doing my ball handling warm up. After that I just relax until I play.


What has basketball taught you that carries over into the other areas of your life?


That life comes with highs and lows. That not everything goes according to a plan and not everyone is going to root for you. Taught me to earn your respect and keep your dignity. To hustle and create something for yourself. To teach and appreciate others. To love yourself and everything outside yourself.


If you could meet and sit down for dinner with anyone who would it be and why?


ALLEN IVERSON OR DERRICK ROSE. Both because they play a huge role on my style of play, and both have stories to tell about beating the odds and dealing with adversity that I admire so much.


What advice would you give to a young baller who is just starting out?


Play with passion, heart, desire to win. Learn to teach yourself before seeking outside help. Watch and appreciate the game. Draw a plan out for yourself and stick by it. Most importantly have fun doing it.


Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What is/are your dream(s)?


After I’m done playing overseas, I see myself coaching kids and starting a mentoring program to teach and help kids develop skills. That’s the goal.


You can read more about Dallion's Simple Things project here.

All images © 2014-2020 Ursula Vari