For Jonny David, Kentucky’s trip to the Bahamas in August continued his family’s annual tradition of vacation adventure. How often does a person swim with dolphins?
David did just that thanks to a break in UK’s schedule and some pre-planning by his family.
“It was actually kind of scary at first,” David said.
After walking into the water, there was a drop-off, he said. That’s where the dolphins swam.
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“It wasn’t like clear water,” David said. “So you just had no idea where they’re at.”
With UK basketball’s next activity looming, David could not slowly adjust to this new environment. He recalled a guide telling him, “‘Just go up there. Go to the pit.’
“And I was, like, ‘What? What do you mean?’ He goes, ‘Just go out there.’ I was, like, ‘Oh, crap. All right.’ So I just went out there, looking around at my feet.”
The guide told David to tap the water. The dolphins would respond. The only other instruction was to avoid touching a dolphin in the face or eyes.
“The dolphin comes right up next to me, and (I) just grabbed its fin,” David said. “It was kind of scary. But it was a really cool experience. I’m glad I did it.”
Of course, this trip’s memories did not end with the swim with dolphins. In more than one of Kentucky’s four games in the Imperial Ballroom at the Atlantis resort, the UK fans celebrated victory by chanting David’s name. At the least, the fans had not forgotten the career walk-on was on the team. At the most, they wanted to see him play and, if possible, score.
“One of the highlights of his four years,” the player’s father, Joe David, said of the fans chanting his son’s name.
David appreciated the gesture.
“I mean, obviously, BBN, they show me a lot of love,” he said. “And I show them love back. Honestly, they’re the best fans in the world. It’s a feeling you can’t really describe.”
David, a 1,000-point scorer on a high school team coached by his father, acknowledged some indecision in how to respond to the chants.
“Part of me wants to get all hyped up,” he said. “And part of me is, like, ‘No. I need to be calm.’ But, yeah, it’s a feeling like no other. It really is.”
David, who made the Southeastern Conference’s Academic Honor Roll in each of his three UK seasons, plans to follow his father’s example and work in physical therapy. His father owns his own practice, David Physical Therapy, in Pittsburgh. David’s oldest brother works as a trainer there.
“Right now, I’m in the middle of the applications and all that,” David said.
But the adventuresome spirit fostered by his father’s desire for wide-ranging vacations may extend to his career path.
“Another thing I want to do, too, is I want to be, like, a financial adviser . . . ,” David said. “So I’m going to do that as well.”
He envisions current teammates, plus past and future UK players in professional basketball, as possible clients.
“Whenever these guys reach their goals and stuff — and all the people I’ve known who have reached their goals — make sure they’re being smart,” he said. “So that’s definitely something I want to do.”
About this series
This is the 13th in a series of 13 stories featuring members of the 2018-19 University of Kentucky men’s basketball team. Watch for all 13 in the coming days in the Herald-Leader and on Kentucky.com.