Leicester Riders star retires from professional basketball

Leicester Riders captain Darien Nelson-Henry retires from professional basketball

Darien Nelson-Henry announcing his retirement on-court.
An image of Leicester Riders captain Darien Nelson-Henry announcing his retirent on-court. Credit: Charlie Walker

Leicester Riders captain Darien Nelson-Henry has retired from professional basketball following the 2022-23 season. 

In three-and-a-half seasons, he led the club to four pieces of silverware – including a treble last year. He was named to the BBL Team of the Year in 2021 and 2022, following back-to-back league titles. 

The American averaged 12.4 points and 5.6 rebounds last season, shooting a BBL-high 64.4% from the field. 

This season, on the way to a BBL Cup Final and BBL Playoff final in the same season, he averaged eight points and 4.1 rebounds, still leading the team from the frontcourt.

Nelson-Henry played seven professional seasons after a four-year college career at the University of Pennsylvania.

He led Penn in scoring, rebounding and blocks as a senior on his way to an All-Ivy second-team selection.  

He led Lake Washington to their best-ever state tournament finish in high school. His successes earned him State 3A Player of the Year and King County MVP to cap off a lucrative senior year.

On the “Along for the Ride!” podcast, he cited the completion of his master’s degree as a reason for his retirement, as he does not want to leave a gap in his resume as he looks for employment away from sport.

“As you can all imagine, a lot of thought has gone into my decision to retire after this season,” Nelson-Henry told StoryHub.

“Although my love for the game has not diminished, my priorities have changed, pushing me to seek new challenges. 

“I am so very appreciative for the opportunities that the Riders have offered me – not only with playing basketball, but also setting me up for a future beyond the arena.

“As a player and captain, it has been my pleasure to be a part of the Riders family. 

“The staff, the fans, the sponsors, and the community have truly made this a home away from home, and I cannot express my ultimate gratitude enough. 

Darien Nelson-Henry dunking the basketball agianst the Manchester Giants.
Darien Nelson-Henry throwing down a two-handed slam against the Manchester Giants. Credit: Charlie Walker

“Despite that, the success I have shared with my teammates, coaches, and the entirety of Leicester comprise memories that will last my lifetime. Thank you all for everything, and go Riders!”

Head coach Rob Paternostro said: “Darien has not only been a great player for our club but a wonderful ambassador who has made an impact throughout the Leicester community.

“I have really enjoyed working with Darien. His talent, intelligence, and team-first attitude have been a driving force for all our success.” 

Managing director Russell Levenston commented: “Darien has been a fantastic ambassador for all things Riders basketball. A great player on the court and a tremendous figurehead for us off it.

“He has represented our club amazingly well and we will miss having him here next season. We wish him all the best for the future.”

An image of Darien Nelson-Henry announcing his retirement on-court.
Leicester Riders captain Darien Nelson-Henry was emotional when announcing his retirement on-court, following a win against the Sheffield Sharks. Credit: Charlie Walker

Nelson-Henry made the announcement on the last day of the BBL Championship season in his post-game thank you to the fans. 

The Riders legend will move to London to seek work away from basketball.