Off the Court:

(Photo by Jessica Hoffman)



When hes not perfecting his game, Marquis Daniels often is fine-tuning another one of his talents not on the court, but in a recording studio.

By his latest count, Daniels has recorded dozens of rap songs in the style of the Southern rappers he heard on the radio while growing up in Orlando. Its something I look forward to doing, just working on recordings, said Daniels, who started testing his skills with rap while he was still in high school.

The countless hours in the studio have paid off, according to the 6-6 guard. I dont like to brag on myself, but Im better than a lot of guys you hear on the radio, he said.

Daniels said most of his songs are about everyday life experiences most people are able to relate to. Its about stuff that I went through as a kid," he said, "stuff Ive seen and different things Ive done."

Many of those life experiences date back to his teen years, when Daniels got caught up in skipping school and hanging out with his friends. Looking back, he said, his life could have taken a different turn had it not been for his mothers intervention. Hes able to vividly recall the day that his days of hanging out abruptly came to an end.

It was spring break during his junior year, and he had just walked in the door after playing basketball. His mother announced, Youre leaving in the morning, Daniels said in recounting the short conversation. I said, Where am I going?

Within hours, Daniels was on his way to Mt. Zion Christian Academy, a private school in Durham, N.C. At the time, Daniels considered it one of the worst things that could have happened to him. I just hated it, he said.

Today, however, he considers that major transition as one of the best moves his mother could have made. It was good for me in the end, he said. Im glad she decided to do that for me. I probably wouldnt be where I am now.

For Daniels, the drive to focus on basketball didnt come until he was about 15. Before then, he enjoyed being active in different types of sports year round, including football, which was his favorite at the time. His height played into his decision to turn his focus to basketball.

Besides playing basketball, rapping, eating his favorite foods of homemade macaroni and lasagna and playing sports and adventure video games, Daniels said his next favorite pastime is sleeping. Im like a Rip Van Winkle, he said with a laugh. Ive always slept a lot. If I dont have to get up at a certain time, I could sleep in until 2 p.m."

Daniels also enjoys helping others, primarily through the Q6 Foundation, an organization he founded to provide funds for underprivileged children and to increase awareness about health issues such as sickle cell anemia. Daniels, who earned his bachelors degree in sociology in 3 years at Auburn University, said he considers himself a people person.

I get along with everyone, said Daniels, who encourages fans to come talk to him after games.

Daniels, who foresees himself continuing to write and rap about life, said he has a few words of wisdom for those who want to succeed: Stay humble and keep working hard. Nothing is given to you. Theres no substitute for hard work.