Jonas Valanciunas is a Lithuanian basketball player who made a name for himself in Europe before joining the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 2012 to join the Raptors. The towering center, which has earned a reputation for always reaching a double-double, has already made its name known for the most double-doubles of any Raptors player in the franchise’s playoff history.
Jonas Valanciunas was born in Utena, Lithuania, on May 6, 1992, the son of Jonas Vilkas and Danute Valacniunas. His parents were never married and he was raised by his mother, which is why he bears her family name.
As he grew up, Valanciunas was always the tallest person among his peers. He received these genes from his father, who was also quite tall and was a rowing master in the former Soviet Union. Because of his size, Valanciunas was introduced to basketball and he never looked back from the first day he could bounce a ball. He played for some local teams and proved to be very good at the game, which made him take the sport seriously.
As a 14-year-old, Valanciunas made headlines and the next big event attracted national attention. He first enrolled at the basketball school in Vilnius, whereupon he was called up to represent his country at the 2007 European U-16 Championship in Greece. Valanciunas could not make a big impression on the team in Greece, but when he returned to the same tournament in Italy the following year, he dominated with an average of 14.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks, leading his team to the gold medal when he was named MVP.
Jonas Valanciunas started his professional career after this tournament and joined the second-ranked Lithuanian team Perlas Vilnius. He helped the team advance to the top league in just under a season before moving to the Lithuanian powerhouse Lietuvos Rytas in 2010. He played and won several trophies during his two-year tenure on the team and then decided to bring his talents to the NBA.
Valanciunas was selected by the Toronto Raptors with the fifth overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft. He spent one more year in Europe before signing a contract in July 2012 and announced himself to the NBA universe with a double-double in his debut game. He averaged 8.9 points and 6.0 rebounds in 62 games. Before the 2013-14 season, Valanciunas decided to play in the summer league of Las Vegas, where he was named MVP. The following season, he played 81 games with an average of 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds and helped his team make its playoff debut in the Eastern Conference in third place, despite the Raptors being knocked off the field in the first round.
By August 2015, Valanciunas had proved to be the deciding factor for the Raptors, who extended his stay on a four-year contract worth $64 million. He returned the trust placed in him by helping the team achieve a season of 50 wins for the first time in its history. The team also enjoyed its deepest playoff round to date after reaching the Eastern Conference final, where it lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The injuries did not do Jonas Valanciunas any good. He suffered his first significant injury on November 22, 2015, when he broke his left hand and then was not used for six weeks. His next injury occurred at the worst possible time in Game 3 of the second round of the 2016 playoffs against the Miami Heat. He sprained his right knee in the game and had to sit out the next eight games, including the first four games of the Eastern Conference finals. His teammates, who were eventually beaten in six games, missed his presence.
Jonas Valanciunas’ Wife
Jonas Valanciunas is married to his Lithuanian compatriot Egle Valanciunas (née Acaite). She is the daughter of the well-known Lithuanian lawyer and politician Remigijus Acas and his wife Vida, who is also an economist and politician. Remigijus Acas is probably best known for the impeachment proceedings against President Rolandas Paksas.
Jonas and Elge, who allegedly runs a shopping website, met in 2013 and they met for a year before exchanging vows in 2014. Together they have a son named Jonas Jr. who was born on March 12, 2014.
Height And Other Facts
Jonas Valanciunas is currently the largest player on the Toronto Raptors Roster Roster with a height of 2.13 m (7 feet 0 inches).
In 2013 he was appointed to the second all-rookie team in the NBA. Before that he won several awards in his home country, including the EuroCup Rising Star, the FIBA Young Player of the Year (2011, 2012), and the Lithuanian Player of the Year (2011, 2012, 2014, 2017), to name a few.
With his national basketball team, he has won awards at various ages of the game, from the European Youth Olympic Festival, where he won gold in 2007, to EuroBasket 2015, where he won silver.