By Mackenzey Dixon
Hundreds of students have the chance to play pro football, but only 1 in 16 actually make it beyond their high school gymnasium. One of these shining stars is starting wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, Julio Jones. Weighing in at a whopping 220 pounds and standing at about 6’3″ tall, he has been breaking records ever since he touched the field as a child. He is a former student of Foley High School and excelled in their football program. Athletic abilities like he possesses do not come from a skip and a hop. It takes time to become as big of a football idol as he is. Thousands of children admire his great performances and determination on the field, and some even wish to be just like him. Jones is a kind and warm-hearted individual that sacrifices a lot to please those who matter the most, his fans.
In the beginning, things were not always easy for him. He grew up with his mother and step father and resided in Aaronville in Foley, Alabama. Gazing forward at a better future for them, he turned to football and poured his heart out in every sprint, throw, touchdown and sweat pellet he shed. Each time he stepped on that field, he thought of the accomplishments he could reach and how much better life could possibly be. He performed well, not only for himself and multitudes of eagle-eyed scouts, but also for his mother. Putting a smile on her face as he became the center of attention for every watching eye made his heart jump for joy.
Shortly after he began breaking records here at Foley High School, his hard work was noticed by some of the top colleges in the nation. Scouts began to visit left and right, almost begging for his participation at their school. All of that attention could make almost any high school student go crazy. Being noticed by huge teams that you’ve only seen on television is bizarre. Imagine the thoughts that were running through his head at the time, how shocked he was to have someone notice him, how his spirits were jumping with joy at the start of his outstanding football career. He would have never thought that doing something he loves dearly would take him to places he believed were unreachable.
Jones studied at the University of Alabama and excelled in their football program as well. Between the years of 2008 and 2010 he was ranging somewhere between 884 to 885 yards per season. That’s nearly twice as many yards of the average college wide receiver. He left the University of Alabama as a junior and was immediately drafted into the NFL. The look on his mother’s face as they announced his name to be part of the Atlanta Falcons was astonishing. She was overwhelmed with joy. They would have no more worries and times would get better. That is until one almost fatal encounter happened within their family.
Phillip Jones, brother of Julio Jones, was shot in the right arm in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It all happened so fast, there was almost no time left to save him. He was life-flighted from an area nearby the scene where the incident occurred. His children and other family members were devastated. Fearing the loss of a dad, son, and brother at such a young age is just unimaginable. Luckily Phillip survived, and today he is well and living life to the best of his ability. Julio realized that life is so short and could end with the snap of a finger, so from that day forward, he has been pressing even harder on the field.
Great things come to those who have survived a rough start.