Known as Jelly Roll throughout the NFL, Lional Dalton was a force to be reckoned with. For nine seasons he played on five teams throughout the National Football League, winning one Superbowl, and recognized as one of the best defensive tackles in the league. At his biggest, Lional weighed 315 pounds. 315 pounds working tirelessly for nine years on the football field took its toll on Lional’s health. Dalton was forced to retire after a spinal injury, but it was years later that his body really started to suffer after decades of playing the game.
Lional started to suffer from high blood pressure, arthritis and kidney issues. He says “a lot of that comes from all the medication and blows to the body.” Those blows eventually led him to be in chronic pain, and in January 2020, Lional was diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure. He was immediately put on dialysis. “It was a shock to me,” stated Lional. “I knew I was getting sicker each day; I knew my body was fighting against me, but I didn’t know it was this bad.” So bad, that Lional has dialysis now several times a week and is in urgent need of a new kidney. “I’ve lost almost 100 pounds, I’m eating as healthy as I can, exercising and doing everything right, but unfortunately playing football for all those years did come with a price,” Dalton said. “I loved football and still do; I just think nine seasons is way too long to play professionally.”
Dalton’s doctor, Dr. Leonard Gyebi, from Peachtree Kidney and Hypertension, meets with him weekly to discuss ways that will help keep him as healthy as possible until a new kidney is found. “Lional’s case is a critical one,” states Dr. Gyebi. “At 45, Lional is too young to be in this much pain. He has a young family, and a long life to live. It’s crucial we find him a kidney as soon as possible.”
Lional started playing football at a very young age. Playing in the neighborhoods of his hometown, Detroit, MI, Lional had a stand-out career at Cooley High School, located on the Northwest side of Detroit. While there, he was a three-year letterman, excelling in both football and track and also earned the nickname that’s stuck with him to this day, Jelly Roll.”
“We used to have a 60-yard dash after practice for the guys that threw the shot,” Dalton explains, “This particular race, I won. My high school coach said, ‘That must be jelly because jam don’t shake like that.’ They nicknamed me ‘Jelly’ and then said, ‘Look at Jelly roll.’ From then on, everybody just started calling me ‘Jelly Roll.'”
Dalton chose to continue his education at Eastern Michigan University, where he was a two-year starter, earned All-Mid-American Conference honors twice and was selected co-Defensive MVP as a senior in 1997. He was also selected to play in the Hula Bowl All-Star Game. While Dalton’s performance in Honolulu didn’t persuade an NFL team to select him in the 1998 NFL Draft, it did generate enough attention to warrant several free agents. In the end, Dalton chose the Baltimore Ravens, saying the team was the best fit for him. While at Baltimore, Dalton stood-out as a key defensive player, eventually becoming a regular member of the Ravens front four rotation. During his final three seasons as a Raven, he played in every game, helping Baltimore bring home a Super Bowl win in Super Bowl XXXV. While in Baltimore, Lional accumulated 36 solo tackles, 10 assisted tackles, nine tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. He eventually signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent in 2002 and throughout the remainder of his career, played for the Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Texans and Washington. To Dalton however, Baltimore will always be home. His first professional football team, a Super Bowl ring and memories that will last a lifetime.
Nearly 100,000 people are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. Many more people are waiting for a kidney than for all other organs combined. Unfortunately, the number of people waiting for kidneys is much larger than the number of available kidneys from living and deceased donors. You can save a life by being a kidney donor.
Living donation takes place when a living person donates an organ (or part of an organ) for transplantation to another person. The living donor can be a family member, such as a parent, child, brother or sister (living related donation), but can also come from someone not related. Thanks to improved medications, a genetic link between the donor and recipient is no longer required to ensure a successful transplant.
To donate a kidney, you must be in good physical and mental health. As a general rule, you should be 18 years or older and have normal kidney function. There are some medical conditions that could prevent you from being a living donor. These include having uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, HIV, hepatitis, or acute infections. Having a serious mental health condition that requires treatment may also prevent you from being a donor.
On average, a kidney from a living donor lasts about 15 to 20 years. Some will last longer; others might last less.
Lional and his family are eternally grateful for all of the support they received while he was on his journey to find a life-saving kidney. As a result, they are working on numerous ways to pay-it-forward and help others who are in need. Check back here for information and exciting news on what that looks like and how you can help make an impact once again!
When Lional Dalton got the phone call at about 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 25 that he had a kidney waiting for him, he couldn’t hold onto his tough-guy football demeanor anymore.
Earlier this summer, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh pulled aside Jameel McClain, the former Baltimore linebacker who now works in the team’s front office.
“When you get a chance, give DeAngelo Tyson a call,” Harbaugh said.
A former member of the Kansas City Chiefs is set to receive a new kidney after battling late-stage kidney failure. Lional “Jelly Roll” Dalton has been battling kidney failure since 2020, but he only publicly shared his story in 2021.
PITTSBURGH — As 2020 started, before anyone knew what the COVID-19 pandemic would become or of the civil unrest that would arise, former Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Lional “Jelly Roll” Dalton was starting a battle of his own.
In 1999, an employee from the Ravens came to big-bellied defensive tackle Lional Dalton, nicknamed “Jelly Roll,” and asked if there was an organization he’d like to support. They had different options he could choose from.
I know there are many people in need of organs in the United States. Recently, we wrote an article about former Tennessee Titans legend Albert Haynesworth who needed a new kidney. He actually found a donor recently and is feeling much better.
Lional Dalton’s wife recently found a plaque that he received for a public service announcement he did decades ago for organ donation and transplantation. The former Ravens defensive tackle now is in need of a life-saving kidney transplant.
Despite starring at Eastern Michigan University, Dalton didn’t hear his name called during the 1998 NFL draft. That didn’t stop him from achieving his dream of becoming a pro football player.
If you want more information on how you can help Lional, or about kidney donations, please email: email@example.com