From Nickels to ‘Dimez:’ Artreyo Boyd on Parlaying Esports Success into a Dream Job with Mavs Gaming

Artreyo “Dimez” Boyd was the No. 1 overall draft pick for the Dallas Mavericks and the inaugural NBA 2K League which launched in 2018. The only player from that original 2018 squad to still be playing for the Mavericks, the 24-year-old virtual point guard now sits quietly staring out at over the practice facility. The last two years have been a whirlwind. Interviews, press conferences, and playing with late-night show host Conan O’Brien, Boyd leans back and gives thanks, for all of this could have gone a different direction.

Boyd’s affinity for the NBA 2K video game started with NBA 2K8. He also loved physically playing basketball as well. Showing up to local neighborhoods and parks, day and night, Boyd carved out a reputation for himself as a prolific passer, hence his in-game name of Dimez. He would later replicate this same style in the NBA 2K League.

As Boyd continued to play he became self-aware that he wasn’t going to play basketball in college or the National Basketball Association. As much as coming to this realization hurt on an emotional level, Boyd figured he would do the next best thing: learn to be the best NBA 2K player. But it wasn’t going to be easy.

Coming from a large family living in Cleveland, Ohio, Boyd knows about sacrifice. For he and his family, space was tight and food was sometimes scarce. When Boyd won his first tournament and received $20 USD, he didn’t spend it on himself, he went home and gave it to his father, who was then able to feed the family. It was a watershed moment for the then-teenager.

“You know, $20 bought food to eat for two days for us,” Boyd recounted. “So I played a ton. I won $20 here, $50 there. Although it was fun, it was still a sacrifice for me. No time for a girlfriend or going out with friends. I stayed at the house, grinding.”

And while Boyd was able to bring home a little bit of money to the family, his father was opposed to his son playing video games. At the time, Boyd’s father could only see his child “sitting around” playing video games all day, but Boyd knew differently. He absolutely believed his destiny revolved around this game, this passion. His arguments for why he must continue to play, sometimes, fell on deaf ears. But in the back of his mind, he always knew.

“So me and my dad had a lot of disagreements,” Boyd remembers. “But I was like, ‘dad, bear with me. Something is going to happen.’ I don’t know what, but I know something with gaming and 2K would happen.”

And in 2018, something did happen and it changed Boyd and his family’s life forever.

Artreyo “Dimez” Boyd became the answer to a trivia question as the first player ever drafted in the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League by the Dallas Mavericks. For the Mavericks, there was no other player they wanted more.

“We wanted to draft someone that the Mavericks could work within building a brand and a franchise. We wanted to compete at the highest level, and at the time that was Dimez,” former general manager of Mavericks Esports Roger Caneda said about Boyd. “Jonah Edwards, the head coach at the time and I pushed for Dimez in the office because we knew what he could do for the brand.”

In an instant, Boyd’s life went from wondering if there were enough tournaments close enough to his home in which to make money to help feed his family to now making a six-month base salary of $35K. Add the perks of paid housing and travel, and Boyd was able to help pay for food and utilities, but also buy himself the shoes he’s always wanted.

“Before the league I had nothing, I had no job. I lived with my parents and I grew up in a not so good neighborhood,” Boyd lamented. “We didn’t have money. We didn’t, we were your poor, poor family, but I always had a feeling that something would happen throughout all those years. And it did.”

In his first season, Boyd did not disappoint. He was all over the leaderboards listing 15th in scoring at 19.1 points per game, 5th in assists at 11.0 per game, and 4th in steals at 2.9 per game.

His gameplay in the league as a point guard was talked about by many in the league of being innovative, creative, and selfless. And as it stands, the way he plays the game is how people generally see Boyd.

Boyd has turned into one of the faces of the league. He’s done interviews with the likes of Forbes, The Washington Post, USA Today, and others. He has created his own brand and image with the hopes of expanding into streaming and creating merchandise.

“I have my own personal branding logo and I have merch[andise] ideas and things that I want to do,” Boyd said, looking forward. “I want to have my own clothing line; a women’s clothing line and a men’s clothing line.”

Streaming appears to be on the docket as well for Boyd.

“I’m a big streamer on Twitch. But, I also want to do YouTube content and not just around gaming. I want to do content about me in person, as a person.”

Boyd is living his dream and continues to work hard to stay in the league. Video games were a means to an end for Boyd, who has now used his new-found fame to expand into other spaces in esports. 

His family doesn’t have to wait and see where the next meal is coming from any longer; Boyd has seen to that. That once poor kid from Cleveland, Ohio, has shown the esports community and the world that sometimes when you reach for the stars, you may be able to reach more than one.

“I literally come from the absolute bottom of, you know, not having anything. Everybody doubted me, including my parents at a point in time,” Boyd said slowly and sadly. “They didn’t support it. I had to basically win over my own parents and everybody else But in the end, I made it and I am proud of that.”

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