Former NBA player Jumaine Jones takes Albany youths ‘beyond the court’

Former NBA player Jumaine Jones spoke to Albany students as part of the Albany Recreation & Parks Department's "Beyond the Court" series. (Courtesy of Albany Recreation & Parks)

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Former NBA player Jumaine Jones spoke to Albany students as part of the Albany Recreation & Parks Department's "Beyond the Court" series. (Courtesy of Albany Recreation & Parks)

A career in the NBA took Jumaine Jones to the top of the sports world. But along with the highs came the lows, including a lengthy bout with depression after he hung up his sneakers.

The former Mitchell-Baker Eagle and University of Georgia star, who has held basketball camps in the area, was in Albany this week sharing his experiences with Albany youths. He spoke to a group of participants in the Albany Recreation & Parks Department’s three-on-three basketball program last Friday.

“This is south Georgia,” he said during a telephone interview prior to his appearance. “I’ve been working on getting back down to the south Georgia area. I’ve been to Camilla, Valdosta. I had the opportunity to come back and keep giving back to south Georgia.”

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Jumaine Jones, whose professional career included time in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Phoenix, recently released his book "Last Man Standing: Behind the Game" and works with athletes on aspects of the game from financial literacy to dealing with retirement from sports. (Courtesy of Albany Recreation & Parks)

Credit: Albany Recreation & Parks

Jumaine Jones, whose professional career included time in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Phoenix, recently released his book "Last Man Standing: Behind the Game" and works with athletes on aspects of the game from financial literacy to dealing with retirement from sports. (Courtesy of Albany Recreation & Parks)

Credit: Albany Recreation & Parks

Combined ShapeCaption
Jumaine Jones, whose professional career included time in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Phoenix, recently released his book "Last Man Standing: Behind the Game" and works with athletes on aspects of the game from financial literacy to dealing with retirement from sports. (Courtesy of Albany Recreation & Parks)

Credit: Albany Recreation & Parks

Credit: Albany Recreation & Parks

Jones, whose professional career included time in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Phoenix, as well as Europe, also has a new book out, “Last Man Standing: Behind the Game.”

Currently Jones is using his life in “the game” to instruct younger players, from grade school to those already in pro sports.

“I do a lot of speaking on financial literacy, mental health awareness, a lot of things I went through after retirement,” he said. “I went through three years of depression.

“After I started going to counseling, I learned a lot of things I was going through started when I was a kid.”

One lesson Jones shared is that while there are thousands of aspirants to the big leagues, only a tiny percentage will ever don a pro jersey in the future. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t careers in the sports world that don’t require handling a ball.

“The guys you see wrapping the cords up after the game make $200,000,” Jones said. “Mascots make six figures. I tell people, and they’re like ‘mascots make six figures, too?’”

Another lesson is that whatever career individuals pursue, it takes effort.

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“Things don’t come easy,” Jones said. “All the successful people I know worked hard. I try to talk to them about things they might go through. I talk about how much work and determination it takes to chase your dreams.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones brought basketball camps to several southwest Georgia cities, including Albany. That effort was part of a youth outreach program launched by Mindful Sports & Performance, a company founded by Jones’ life partner, Shena Locke, a licensed therapist who helps athletes in transition.

Over the past several years, Jones has worked with athletes as well as other groups, spreading the message that “It’s OK not to be OK.”

“We think we have it together, we think we have to be tough,” he said. “You have to be tough and you can’t cry. I tell people it’s OK to cry. I’ve learned that I’m helping so many people.

“That’s what you try to do is get people to open up and talk about themselves. I’ve learned after working with the kids, a lot of them go home to homes where parents have mental health issues. I think a lot of parents want to help, but parents have a lot of questions about a lot of things.”

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Former Mitchell-Baker High School and University of Georgia basketball player Jumaine Jones was in southwest Georgia to speak to participants in the city of Albany's three-on-three basketball program. The former NBA player now works with athletes, from grade school to the pros, on issues they may face. (Courtesy of Albany Recreation & Parks)

Credit: Albany Recreation & Parks

Former Mitchell-Baker High School and University of Georgia basketball player Jumaine Jones was in southwest Georgia to speak to participants in the city of Albany's three-on-three basketball program. The former NBA player now works with athletes, from grade school to the pros, on issues they may face. (Courtesy of Albany Recreation & Parks)

Credit: Albany Recreation & Parks

Combined ShapeCaption
Former Mitchell-Baker High School and University of Georgia basketball player Jumaine Jones was in southwest Georgia to speak to participants in the city of Albany's three-on-three basketball program. The former NBA player now works with athletes, from grade school to the pros, on issues they may face. (Courtesy of Albany Recreation & Parks)

Credit: Albany Recreation & Parks

Credit: Albany Recreation & Parks

Jones’ appearance was part of the city of Albany’s Recreation and Parks Department’s Beyond the Court series for children 15 and younger. The sessions are meant to provide inspiration and that teach life lessons.

The department was fortunate to schedule Jones, whose stature as a former NBA player makes him someone kids can look up to, said Recreation and Parks Director Steven Belk.

“I remember watching him in high school,” Belk said. “We had some local standouts, but everybody wanted to see the Jumaine Jones show. He was a humble kid, and he’s remained humble. It’s a full circle to see his growth and his maturity.”

Jones has become a bridge-builder in helping others, and his experience provides guidance to young people, Belk said.

“He’s the epitome of perseverance,” Belk said.


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Credit: Albany Herald

Credit: Albany Herald

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