Often when professional athletes leave one city for another, they cut off all loose ends. They sell their houses, relocate and move on with life.
That’s not the case for former Miami Heat player James Jones.
Though he has moved on to Cleveland with you-know-who, he continues to make an impact in his native community.
Born and raised in South Florida, Jones went through the public school system and finished his education at University of Miami before moving on to the pros.
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He founded his own organization, the James Jones Legacy Foundation, to provide resources to struggling and at-risk youth — resources that he never had growing up.
“As a young man growing up in the inner city, my life was quite different than it is for me now. Peer pressure, bad choices and a lack of role models made juvenile development quite challenging,” says Jones on his website.
This week he continued his humanitarian role in South Florida, hosting his annual Crew 22 Training Camp for foster and homeless children. This year’s camp hosted 61 campers for 4 days of summer fun at the Biscayne Bay campus of Florida International University.
The camp is all-encompassing, including sports, marine science, as well as empowerment sessions focused on leadership, decision making, and public speaking. Campers’ ages ranged from 11 to 14 years old.
Jones reflected about his role in the community at the camp’s kickoff Tuesday morning.
“Every summer I think it’s important to get back with the boys and girls from my city — the kids that grew up the same way I came up — with big dreams and big goals, trying to navigate a very multicultural and dynamic place to live in.”
The training camp is one of the numerous events that Jones’ organization has hosted over the years, and its impact on the children is profound, says Angeline Pino, logistics director.
“For a lot of kids this is their first opportunity to do things that we take for granted like going to the pool, the museum, or the aquarium. The kids all benefit despite coming from different backgrounds and different experiences.”
For Jones, the entire experience is worth it. Speaking to the kids at the camp kickoff, he summed it up best.
“I just wanted to let you guys know how much I enjoy being around you, how happy I am to be back here,” he said. “You allow me to have fun working and doing something that I love, which is impact the lives of kids and families.”