How Rajon Rondo’s Big Brother Became the NBA’s Go-To Concierge
Those brotherly skills are well honed: Will Rondo was born in Louisville in 1981, the oldest child of William Sr. and Amber Rondo. Five years later came Rajon and then, one year after that, his sister, Dymon. When he was 11, Will’s parents split, leaving Amber to raise the kids. Amber says Will picked up the outgoing nature of his father, which makes sense given that he was the only one of the kids old enough to really know him. Rajon and Dymon ended up more like her, quiet and reserved.
Amber worked the overnight shift at a nearby Philip Morris factory, and though she somehow managed to never miss any of her kids’ games or events, that meant that a lot of times Will was left in charge of his siblings. As a result, pretty much everywhere he went, Rajon went, too. They would go on bike rides, play sports, hit the local arcade, and just generally rattle around the neighborhood. “You don’t usually see big brothers let their little brothers hang with them,” says Jermaine Bentley, Rondo’s cousin.
“We were side by side for the most part,” Rajon says, lounging in the Celtics locker room before a game. “I learned a lot from him, as far as stuff in the classroom. Also, quarterback — he was a pretty good quarterback growing up. He taught me everything he knew” — and here Rajon displays the natural inability of a brother to just say something nice about his sibling — “he didn’t know nothing about basketball, though.”
As close as they were, the Rondo kids were always competitive, whether in the nightly Connect Four and Uno showdowns on their porch, or playing basketball on the hoop out back. “We got in a lot more arguments when we were younger,” Will says. “He’s stubborn. I’m hard-headed. I’m the oldest, so I think I know it all.”
“I’m hard-headed, too,” Rajon acknowledges. “We’re brothers; we agree to disagree.”
Will, the oldest, was always the protector. Dymon recalls that, whenever he had Rajon or her with him, Will made sure to introduce them as his little brother and sister. With close friends, she says, “He always made [the friends] aware, you know, watch after them…. Don’t let nothing happen to them.”
Rondo also often tried to help ease his mother’s burdens by running errands or cooking breakfast for his siblings when she seemed tired. Bacon, eggs, pancakes, and sausage were his go-tos. “Me and Rajon, we could make our own bowl of cereal, but if we wanted something else, we’d tell Will,” Dymon says. “I wouldn’t really compare it to my mother’s, but I’m sure he’s gotten better.” (The good-natured shot, obviously, runs in the Rondo family.)
By the time Rajon made it to high school, Will was off at college at Murray State (he had a brief and unspectacular football career there), but he still made a point of getting to know his brother’s new high school basketball coach, Doug Bibby (who happens to be the cousin of NBA star Mike Bibby). “He came to me to check me out,” Bibby says. The two became friends and, while home from college, Will helped Bibby take players to tournaments, even doing some coaching as well. After Rajon got drafted, Bibby, who’d seen his cousin Mike face all the challenges of adapting to the NBA, suggested that Will move to Boston with Rajon to help him get acclimated.
RONDO WAS AT A LIMO-INDUSTRY convention in Atlantic City a couple of years ago, driving around with his friend Barry Gross, the executive director of a Virginia limo service called A Goff Limousine & Bus Company, when his phone rang. It was one of his athlete clients, and the guy needed two stretch SUV limos in Houston, pronto. Also, they had to be white. Also, it was prom weekend in Houston. So Rondo and Gross started working their contacts, trying desperately to hunt down the cars. “We’re handing phones back and forth to each other,” Gross says. Finally, after an hour of frantically calling — dialing up everyone they knew inside and outside of Houston — they found the limos.