The shocking, jaw-dropping text came through to my cell phone during a casual late night business meeting with some friends. I re-read the text, showed it to my husband, and excused myself as I stepped out of the room.
With a text like this I must pre-empt that at one time in my life, I prided myself with the ability to have a “natural poker player face” when truly needed. This time, however, I immediately failed and our friends heard me gasp.
“Excuse me, I need to call my daughter. Some things cannot be handled by texts. I called Dani and she answered immediately and giggled and rambled on, as only she can, about the details of her just meeting the New York Yankee Baseball Player, Derek Jeter!!!
Her enthusiasm and laughter was contagious and at that moment I felt like her high school BFF begging her to “please tell me more!” The backdrop to this particular saga includes a time in her life where Dani worked as a paralegal in Tampa, Florida. It was 2007 and Tampa, as many may remember, was the location of spring training for the New York Yankees.
Dani socialized with a group of friends at that time that frequented an upscale, safe, popular night club in Tampa. Dani had been casually dating a handsome Australian bouncer from that club and was privy to many evenings, meeting some of the rich and not so famous in the VIP lounge. On this particular evening, however, Derek Jeter was there with another baseball buddy and the daughter of celebrity, Anthony Hopkins. According to the tabloids this was the time in Dereks life that he and actress, Jessica Beil, parted ways.
When Dani spotted him across the room, after making sure it was in fact Derek Jeter, she took it as a personal challenge to wander over and introduce herself to him.
On a mom note, I would like to share I did not know how she was dressed that night, and I actually never asked her. I imagine her in her finest navy dress, wearing her million dollar smile, extending her beautifully impeccably manicured hand, and, with a firm handshake saying, “Hi. My name is Dani Leedy!”
Dani told me after she made the introduction they talked for about a half hour. He told many amusing stories about baseball and the friendship between he and Ms. Hopkins. There was plenty of laughter and, because Dani has the most infectious incredible laugh, I am certain she mesmerized all those around her. She told me she asked for a photo with him, but being a smart celebrity he replied, “My momma told me never to take pictures in public. They can always come back and bite me.” That was good enough for Dani. She didn’t “swoon” or beg, she just enjoyed the moment.
Soon enough her handsome blue eyed bouncer friend caught her eye so she felt it was probably time to end the conversation. As she was leaving, Derek pulled out a pen and grabbed a cocktail napkin. He handed it to her and asked her to write down her phone number. In her mind she thought, “He JUST dated Jessica Beil,” and unbeknownst to her, would begin dating Jessica Alba shortly after meeting Dani. So, she did what any single girl would have done at that moment when asked for her phone number by one of the richest and most available men in the country…
“No, you won’t call me.”
“You will never know if you don’t give me your phone number,” he replied.
On a final mom note, as Dani paused relaying the details to me I thought, “Yes!! Derek Jeter may be my new son in law!” Not so fast mom. Her next line, and one she never regretted was,
“Well, you’re Derek Jeter. If you really want my number, you’ll figure it out!”
She smiled, turned, walked away with her head held high and sent me the infamous text , “Mom, I just met Derek Jeter!”
As the years went on, all of us that knew the story would say, “Only Dani would do something like that, walk away leaving him undoubtedly shocked.” Her Step Dad recalls it being one of the proudest memories he has of her, knowing she did not want to be “just another someone” on his list of dates. She valued herself more than that.
Now me, on the other hand, after I gave up the thought of Derek being in the family, became extremely grateful for the self esteem build that resulted from that evening. Dani displayed total confidence and self respect and I know she found herself falling back on the memories of that night whenever her self image wavered.
A good friend of mine, after hearing this story, proceeded to say, “Jessica Alba was Dereks rebound from Dani.” I think I like that thought best.
**As a final note, it is amazing to see this article written 3 days ago about the philanthropy and positive impact Derek Jeter is making in this world :
“Derek Jeter’s non profit, Turn 2 Foundation, Inc. has awarded more than $34 million, since its launch in 1996, to create and support signature programs that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and “Turn 2” healthy lifestyles. “
You can learn more at: https://www.mlb.com/turn-2-foundation