As a young man growing up in Carol City, Florida, I knew that an advanced education was my gateway to a better future. Peer pressure, bad choices and a lack of role models made juvenile development challenging. Kids in my neighborhood, like so many others, often lacked direction, impetus and the opportunity to remain focused to avoid the pitfalls that awaited them at every turn. I was different. My ultimate dream was to play professional basketball, which became a reality when I was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 2003.
When I returned to Miami in 2008 to play for the Heat, I engaged with many young people in our community. I saw so many great kids in danger of failing that just needed a nudge in the right direction. They were anxiously seeking someone to help them set their paths and encourage them to believe in themselves. My wife Destiny and I founded the James Jones Legacy Foundation with that very goal in mind.
Today, after having left Miami to first play with the Cleveland Cavaliers and then join the Phoenix Suns as the organization’s vice president of basketball operations, Destiny and I have remained committed to continuing the work of the foundation, and to doing everything we can to better the lives of our community’s most vulnerable children.