Words by Cassidy Blackwell
Photography by Seher Sikandar
New York Knicks player Quincy Acy walks into The Wayfarer tavern in Midtown Manhattan on a blustery winter day and greets the Bevel Code team in a stylish pair of black joggers, sleek winter jacket, expertly sculpted beard and Louis Vuitton duffle bag casually slung over his shoulder. Perched atop his 6’8″ frame, however, is a camouflage hunting cap.
This isn’t the camo we see trending on street style blogs, but the kind that is used when out hunting wild game. A curious juxtaposition that perfectly encapsulates the man who is at the same time paving his way as a professional basketball player while retaining his Texas roots.
Quincy is fresh off the plane from playing a game in Miami, landing at 2am the just the night before. Of course the temptation is to talk about his team, the Knicks, but as followers of the sport know, there is not much to say about the franchise currently. Instead we want to know about the man out of the uniform, how he got to be where he is today and, of course, about his signature beard. Luckily for us, that camouflage hat is the perfect tip off for us to get started.
Quincy was born and raised in Mesquite, Texas a small town just on the outskirts of Dallas. Surprisingly, Quincy did not play basketball at all while he was growing up, a rarity for those who eventually find them playing professional ball. Football was his game of choice until the 10th grade when the basketball coach convinced him to try his luck on the court. The rest is history and Quincy quickly made a name for himself in the high school basketball scene, becoming a top recruit and 25th top player in the country. After high school, Quincy went on to play for Baylor where he gained Big 12 acclaim as the 2012 All Defensive Team, Sixth Man of the Year and Second Team All Conference. In 2012, Quincy was drafted with the thirty-seventh pick in the second round of the of the NBA draft by the Toronto Raptors. After hopping around via trades from Bakersfield to Sacramento, he finally landed in New York with the Knicks in August of 2014.
When Quincy speaks of Baylor, it’s with a unique fondness and heartfelt tenor. “I love Baylor. It made me the man who I am today. I had my son in college. I went bald in college,” he says with a reminiscing smile. There is a distinct difference between how he speaks of his time playing college ball and how he speaks of his time in the NBA.
Quincy hints at an individualistic nature of the NBA in comparison his lifestyle playing college basketball. “In college, it was a brotherhood. We played together, we lived together, we studied together,” he says. “But in the NBA that doesn’t really exist. Last year, for example, I got traded right before a game. You just learn to not get too close to the other players. You never really know what’s going to happen.”
For Quincy, life as of an emerging NBA player is one of acclimation, learning and patience. “As a rookie and a 2nd round draft pick, I had to learn to be very patient. There’s a lot of politics to the game when you’re in my position,” says Quincy. Whereas other players with his status might be flippant about their obligations and duties as a team player, Quincy is quick to express his determination to stay in the league for the long haul. “I still do the work. I’m still committed even when I’m not getting my minutes. I just have to stay dedicated. When I’m in season, there’s no drinking, no going out even though we’re constantly surrounded by temptation,” he explains.
Although his team keeps him rooted in the Big Apple, he confesses that he’s not much of a city guy only, venturing to Manhattan only for game days and, of course, this Bevel Code interview, plowing his way through the streets in his massive pick up that still bear Texas plates. In addition to the difference in player politics and dealing with The City, Quincy is also getting acclimated to the rigors of frequent travel. Between his fresh arrival from playing The Heat he only has 24 hours on the ground before taking off again. All that said, Quincy still holds tight to his Texas roots and his family to keep him grounded.
Quincy is unabashedly and uncompromisingly a Texas man at heart. Growing up in a home with a single mother, Quincy developed a close relationship with his mom. “My mother was both my mother and my father,” Quincy explains. As the eldest of three siblings, Quincy quickly grew into a sort of father role himself, caring for and looking after his younger siblings. He remains close with his family still, spending the off season back home in Texas where he actually does put that camouflage hat to use as he spends his days fishing, hunting deer and wild hogs and enjoying the slower pace of life in Texas.
Despite his imposing frame, Quincy is has a certain shyness and softness to his manner of speaking and movement. This especially holds true when he talks about children. He himself has a three year old son named Austin (yes, he is already shooting hoops). “Because my father was never in my life, I vowed I wouldn’t be the same way.” Quincy grins as he talks about the daily Facetime calls with his son and how Austin gets to spend summers with his dad. “The feeling of my son’s unconditional love is one of the best things in the world. I just want to be an example that you can be an involved father and still pursue your career.”
I just want to be an example that you can be an involved father and still pursue your career.
Outside of the family world, Quincy runs his Quincy Acy Foundation where he hosts up a free basketball camp for kids in his hometown of Mesquite. He’s very hands on with the group, making sure that he’s there on the ground teaching the kids the basketball skills himself. In fact, Quincy’s signature beard has become an integral part of the foundation and building awareness for his work. T-shirts emblazoned with they slogan #PutYourBeardFace and an illustration of Quincy’s beard are sold on the foundation’s website and distributed to the kids at the camp. The concept: slip the beard up to the top part of your face and get ready to bring everything you’ve got to the court. “My mom is a teacher and loves helping kids. That’s her passion. Giving back has become mine,” Quincy says of his inspiration behind starting the foundation.
For Quincy, the best part of being a professional basketball player isn’t the fame or the fortune, it’s the ability to give back. “The most rewarding part of all this is being able to share this with my family,” he says. “I get to help my mom with her mortgage, my sister go to college, help my brother out when he needs it. That’s my joy.”