Lional Dalton

Trust Spotlights

Lional Dalton


Lional Dalton is a Super Bowl winning former defensive tackle who spent eight seasons in the NFL. An advocate in his local community, Dalton shared his story to shed light on his battle with kidney disease and provide hope to those in the same situation.

Lional Dalton started playing football at eight years old. He fell in love with being a defensive lineman at age ten and stuck with that position throughout his entire career. He made the All-State team in high school and chose a smaller school in Eastern Michigan University, a decision that allowed him to keep playing defensive tackle.

Dalton enjoyed the college football scene before getting signed as a free agent by the Baltimore Ravens in 1998. He was grateful for his NFL experience because it provided him the opportunity to support his family. Dalton described his NFL journey as “beautiful chaos”. The stress made it chaotic, but it also allowed him to do things he could only dream of as a child.

It gave me an opportunity to do a lot of things a little boy who grew up in my environment probably wouldn't have done or never would experience.

Post-retirement, Dalton’s support system consisted primarily of his family and former teammates. He also received messages of support from fans of the different franchises he played for. Having so many people show their support at a time when many players are transitioning out of doing something they loved for years meant the world to Dalton and it helped lift his spirits.

Dalton stated retiring from the NFL was “bittersweet”, but working on his health issues and starting a nonprofit organization allowed him to find his purpose in helping others deal with the same medical issues he suffered from.

After getting diagnosed with kidney failure, Dalton started his nonprofit organization, Jellyroll Gift of Life, meant to assist those with his condition in finding affordable rates for surgery and medications, as well as giving them a second opportunity in life.

My nonprofit raises money to help people combat the out-of-pocket expenses from kidney issues. Now we're trying to raise money to help people in different states because each state has a different wait time. We just want to help people push up the process and give them a second opportunity in life so they can afford to get the surgery and enjoy having as close to a normal life as possible.

The mindset that Dalton took from the football field to the business world was to take things one day at a time. To those struggling with finding a passion outside of football, Dalton suggests trying as many things as possible.

Pick the thing that you would do for free and stick to that because eventually, it won't feel like work, and it will pay off if you're passionate about it.

Dalton used counseling sessions provided by The Trust for his mental wellbeing. He stated the counseling sessions helped him and his wife communicate better, and it allowed him to overcome the mental barriers he dealt with as a result of his condition.

It helped me let go, it removed a lot of the anger I had towards myself when dealing with this illness. It was good to release the anger and stress when talking with the confidence that The Trust provided for me.

Just as he described his NFL experience, Dalton summarized his life journey as ‘beautiful chaos’. “It was a chaotic dream that ended beautifully”, he said, and he now hopes his story can provide hope to those familiar with his battles.

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