"I think all the pressure just got to her," Dailey says. She died on March 3, 1977, and Quintin's father died a month later. "I was lonely," Dailey continues. "I never imagined my parents not being there." Basketball became a way of dealing with loneliness. "I worked out so hard at practice," he says. "I worked out my frustrations. I'd get upset and I'd just go play ball. I was in my own little world."
At Cardinal Gibbons, Dailey scored 2,844 points and led the Crusaders to a three-year record of 75-20 and two consecutive Baltimore Catholic League titles. Near the end of his senior year, he moved to the Randallstown, Md. home of Howard and Delores Burton, Wanda's parents. Quintin and Wanda had met the year before, and although the relationship got off to a rocky start, Wanda soon became a sounding board for his frustrations. "I had this serious approach to life and she made me cheer up and enjoy myself," says Dailey. "She has a way of calming me down."
Wanda, who attended the Fashion Institute for Design and Technology in San Francisco, shares Dailey's interest in unusual jewelry. One of her most prized pieces is a 14-karat-gold necklace with a diamond-studded "44" charm. The number Dailey wears for the Dons, right? Well, yes, though the necklace was actually a gift from someone else. "Uncle Reg gave it to me," she says.
He is Uncle Reg to Wanda, but to the world at large he is Reggie Jackson, Delores Burton's baby brother and the rightfielder for the Yankees. "When I found out that Reggie Jackson was her uncle," says Dailey, "I said, 'Big deal.' " But Dailey and Jackson soon developed a close relationship after they met at a Yankee-Oriole game in 1978. "I'll call him up and talk to him if I'm going to do something important," says Dailey. "He's sort of a guardian angel. I like the way he handles pressure. Come pressure time, he's there."
"I'm like a big insurance policy for Quintin," says Jackson. "He always knows that Reggie's on the hill if he needs me. He's like family." In fact, Dailey almost is family, because he and Wanda were recently engaged.
New pressures will build when time comes for Dailey to decide whether to return to school next year or to turn pro. The scouts say he's ready to step into a starting NBA backcourt right now. Although Dailey says he wants to get his college degree (in communications), something he promised his mother shortly before her death, his decision next spring will be based on how far the Dons advance in NCAA play. "If we get close, but don't win it, I'll have to wait and see who we're recruiting before making up my mind," he says. "If I have some doubt that we can go any further after this season, I'll leave. If not, then I'll come back."
"We would love to see Q stay here at USF," says Barry, in a colossal understatement. "He has a great rapport with the community. The big question is whether or not he can wait long enough for the megabucks."
No doubt Uncle Reg can give some firsthand advice on that subject.