Jones rising all-time ranks at RMU
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Vicki Jones endured two miscarriages before she delivered Lucious Jones Jr. on April 22, 1993.
The family's joy was fleeting, however. The infant, barely two weeks old, developed Hirschsprung's disease, a blockage of the large intestine, and required surgery to remove part of his colon.
His skin pale and tiny legs swollen, Lucious wore a colostomy bag for 10 months to capture waste until he gained enough weight to undergo a second surgery which, essentially, saved his life.
“He got sick and had to go to the hospital. I hated to see him like that,” said Lucious Jones Sr., recalling his son's harrowing first year. “God blessed the doctor to find out exactly what was wrong. It's a blessing that he was able to make him the man he is now.”
Hence, the younger Lucious became Lucky — short for Lucky Charm — courtesy of his Aunt Vivian, his mother's sister who gave him the enduring nickname.
Despite hearing the story countless times, Robert Morris junior forward Lucky Jones still marvels at the miracle his life has become.
“I was in the hospital for a year,” he said. “My mom told me the reason you're called Lucky is when you were born, we thought you weren't going to make it. A lot of people still don't know my real name is Lucious Jones Jr.”
At a recent game, Lucky's father was pleasantly surprised to hear his son's given name during introductions.
“Everybody calls him Lucky. It was the first time I heard them say Lucious ‘Lucky' Jones,” the elder Jones said. “Wow.”
Lucky or Lucious, Jones has made a name for himself.
He recently became the 22nd player in Robert Morris history to score 1,000 points, and he is the 13th player in program history to collect 1,000 points and 500 rebounds.
“Lucky is having an outstanding year,” coach Andy Toole said. “The progression he's made from his freshman year, when he was an all-rookie team player, to his sophomore year, when he was an all-conference player, he's still improving, still working at his game, still figuring out ways he can help his team.”
Jones' teammates need him now more than ever.
Last month four Robert Morris players — including freshman Jeremiah Worthem, then the Colonials' third leading scorer — were suspended for the remainder of the season due to a violation of school policy. The players can apply for reinstatement in spring 2015 and won't be eligible athletically until the 2015-16 season.
RMU won its first seven NEC games, including three straight wins following the suspensions.
“The message is, ‘Adversity has hit, and we have to continue to overcome and not worry about it,' ” Jones said. “This is just another brick in the road we have to jump over. Even if certain guys aren't in the lineup, it doesn't mean anything. Five people still have to play.”
RMU's five on the floor include Jones, who leads the team in rebounding (6.5 per game) and is second in scoring (13.9).
“Lucky at times is a reluctant leader,” Toole said. “He was one of the last guys to accept that his knowledge and experience is going to make him a leader, whether he likes it or not. He's helped set the tone for the way that we've handled this adversity.”
Under legendary St. Anthony (N.J.) coach Bob Hurley, Jones discovered team play trumps individual success.
“When you recruit a kid from St. Anthony, you know they have been pushed and made to feel uncomfortable at some point,” Toole said. “I think that's why Lucky was able to pick things up so quickly. The intensity of what we're doing, the energy it took to be successful at this level, wasn't new to him because he'd been in situations where people asked him to go beyond his comfort level.”
When St. Anthony faced backyard rival St. Patrick in the semifinals of the 2011 New Jersey sectional championships, Hurley assigned Jones to do the impossible: stop Kentucky-bound Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Jones was masterful in St. Anthony's 62-45 victory, limiting Kidd-Gilchrist — the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft — to seven points while holding him scoreless in the second half. In the aftermath, St. Anthony won the USA Today national championship.
“He ended up fouling out and had a bad game,” said Jones, who contributed 12 points and nine rebounds in addition to playing lockdown defense against the high school All-American. “Obviously he's in the NBA, and he played for Kentucky, but that game showed me I could do anything.”
That, of course, is what Aunt Vivian imagined when she nicknamed her nephew Lucky.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JHarris_Trib.
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