While down with a leg injury during the 2019 season, Chicago Bulls guard Denzel Valentine turned to his other passion, music — and Loyola students might find something familiar in his first music video.
Denzel wrote and recorded his debut single, “Introduction,” last year and the video premiered on Instagram Jan. 30. The video features scenes of Denzel working out and getting back in shape following the injury.
About 48 seconds in, there’s a shot of Denzel working out in Loyola’s Halas Recreation Center with his older brother, Loyola men’s basketball assistant coach Drew Valentine. The video shows Drew coaching Denzel during a workout on one of the courts.
“Part of the video was me working out with Drew because I mention in my song, ‘Two workouts and some treatment and I’m trying to be the best,’” Denzel told The Phoenix. “I wanted to show part of me working out, and that’s something I did over the summer was work out with my brother.”
Drew, 28, has helped coach Denzel, 26, since their time together at Michigan State University from 2013-15. Drew was a graduate assistant men’s basketball coach and Denzel was a junior on the team in 2015 when the Spartans made an NCAA Tournament Final Four run.
Denzel was drafted by the Bulls in 2016. One year later, Drew was hired as an assistant coach for the Loyola men’s basketball team and helped take the Ramblers on a Final Four run of their own.
When he was deciding whether to take the Loyola job, Drew said Denzel wasn’t swaying him toward coming to Chicago so they’d be in the same city again. In fact, he told him the opposite.
“He definitely didn’t want to put pressure on me,” Drew said. “[He’d say] ‘Being in the same city, that’d be awesome, but you’ve got to do what’s best for you.’”
As Denzel prepared to return from his injury this year, he and Drew would work out in Halas three or four times per week during the summer. They would’ve worked out in Gentile Arena, but the arena was getting a new floor and the new Alfie Norville Practice Facility wasn’t finished yet. So, they went to Halas — where Loyola students can also work out.
But students didn’t usually get the chance to see Denzel at Halas. Because of Drew’s schedule with the Ramblers, the Valentines would usually be some of the first ones there.
“My first priority is the players on our team … so we’d get in there at 6:30 [or] 7 in the morning before I would start my own day,” Drew said. “We were in there so early in the morning that we were the only ones in there.”
Denzel doesn’t just come to Loyola to work out, though. He spends time around some of the men’s basketball players — whether it be attending games, visiting practice or getting food with them.
He also tries to make it out to games at Gentile when he can. Although he hasn’t been able to make it out to a Loyola game this year, that’ll change this weekend when Loyola takes on the University of Northern Iowa. It’s NBA All-Star weekend — the game is being hosted at the United Center — and Valentine isn’t participating in any events, meaning he can finally get to a Ramblers game.
“Last year, I got to go to more [Loyola] games, obviously, because I was hurt and I didn’t go on a lot of road trips,” Denzel said. “I haven’t been to a game this year, so I’m not as close to the team as I was last year just because I’m not around as much.”
Even with their different schedules, the Valentines don’t just bond on the basketball court. When Drew was hired at Loyola in 2017, he lived with Denzel for about three months before he got married. He also goes to a fair amount of Bulls games.
They also both have a love for music. Denzel expects to release more songs in the future — and Drew might make an appearance on a few songs.
“He raps too, man, I’m throwing it out there,” Denzel said. “I might have to throw him on a track soon.”