Assigned Reading: Mookie Jones’ circuitous path to a college degree

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This time of year is a special one for many college students, as their hard work in the class room will be rewarded in the form of a college degree. But for some the path to that degree is anything but smooth, and that was definitely the case for former Syracuse basketball player Mookie Jones.

The Peekskill, New York native arrived on the SU campus as a highly-regarded recruit known for his shooting ability, but things never seemed to work out for Jones. Playing time was limited, he struggled in the classroom and by 2012 he was suspended from the school indefinitely after being charged with cyberbullying.

Things would only get worse for Jones from there, with Donna Ditota of the Syracuse Post-Standard writing a story on just how deep the hole would get.

He attempted three times, he said, to fulfill the university’s requirements for re-admittance by acknowledging his behavioral flaws and proving he could be a solid college citizen. Finally, in January 2014, Jones learned SU had accepted the “heartfelt” letter pleading his case and had invited him back to school.

By then, broke and forced to apply for social services, he recognized the occupational hazards of an incomplete education. The menial labor, the basketball jobs that never materialized, the uncertain future that kept him up nights. So when a ruptured Achilles tendon ended his season of minor league professional basketball, Jones retreated home to Peekskill and while watching his baby daughter one day decided to return to school.

Jones’ story has a happy ending, as he will walk across the stage at Manley Field House this weekend and receive his college degree. During his time as a player Jones was a fan favorite, and his story is one that should serve as motivation for others.

You can read the story here.