TheGrio's 100: Dhani Jones, The Renaissance man

theGRIO's 100 - Former NFL linebacker. Author. TV show host. Entrepreneur. It's hard to describe 33-year-old Dhani Jones in one sentence, but a particular phrase comes to mind when referring to him: Renaissance man...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Former NFL Player. TV Host. Author. Entrepreneur.

With his numerous of careers, it’s hard to describe 33-year-old Dhani Jones in just one sentence. Yet a particular phrase does come to mind when referring to him: Renaissance man.

The Maryland native played 11 seasons of professional football with four teams, including the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and most recently, the Cincinnati Bengals, which he retired from the last year.

On television, Jones has hosted ESPN2’s sports show “Timeless” in 2005, and in 2009 he was the star and host of the Travel Channel’s “Dhani Tackles The Globe.” On this show,he traveled around the world learning how to play sports rarely played in the U.S. Nowadays, he currently hosts of VH1 show “Tons of Cash,” a game show which gives 14 contestants laden with debt the chance to win $1 million.

Yet Jones has also taken an interest in fashion. Jones is known for wearing bow ties. He started wearing them in 2000 in support of his friend, fellow NFL player Kunta Littlejohn, who at that time was battling Lymphoma. Littlejohn had told Jones, “If you want to be anybody, you gotta rock a bow tie.”

Littlejohn eventually made a full recovery, and Jones started Bow Tie Cause, a line of bow ties to raise money for charitable causes. Speaking of bow ties, Jones is the owner of Bow Tie Cafe in Cincinnati.

Jones has proved he is talented in a variety of ways. Yet it is his entrepreneurial focus on harvesting that talent that lands him solidly on theGrio 100 list.

Dhani Jones is making history … as someone who has achieved success off the field just as much as he did on it. Jones, who graduated with honors from the University of Michigan, has made a complete transition form a football veteran to a full-fledged businessman, often working in both roles simultaneously before he retired from the NFL.

What’s next for Dhani?

In addition to continuing to pursue his other ventures, Jones creates and sells 3-D photographs and co-owns an advertising and design firm, with a client list that includes Esquire and Proctor & Gamble. This spring, Jones plans to launch the Bow Tie Foundation, which will focus on educating young black males in non-traditional ways.

In his own words …

“Whether (on) a plane to Singapore, a subway in Manhattan, or the streets of Cincinnati, I search for meaningful conversation wherever I may travel. Without it, I believe we lose the ability to not only understand others, but more importantly, ourselves,” Jones wrote in a piece for the Huffington Post last November.

A little-known fact about Dhani’s name

“Dhani” is Hindi for “thinking man.”

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Q: What’s next in this chapter of your life?

A: The next chapter of my life is focused with empowering as many people with Bowtie as possible. I also plan on working with the more people through agency, and doing more on camera and traveling more as well just really want to help more people to voice their cause through the Bowtie.

Q: What’s a fact about you that many people don’t know?

A: I’m actually a shy person.

Q: What’s your favorite quote?

A: If not now, then when? If not you, the who? If not here, then where?

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?

A: The past, present and future.

Q: Who are/were your mentors?

A: Those that are in my family were my mentors, especially, my father, and my grandfather. They advised me heavily on making a lot of decision that I have made.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone who wants craving to achieve their dreams?

A: I would tell them a quote from the book called Orbiting the Giant Airball: If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted. No else can paint it, only you.