Memoir tells of amazing journey
When basketball recruit Allen Jones '76 arrived on campus in the fall of 1972, he carried with him high hopes and a checkered past. Jones discusses both in his recently released book, The Rat That Got Away: A Bronx Memoir.
Raised in South Bronx public housing, Jones describes how he turned his back on his principles and his basketball aspirations and adopted a life of drugs and crime. At 18, Jones faced six felony charges and served time in Rikers Island prison before a sympathetic judge granted him probation.
Thanks to a friend's influence, Jones received a basketball scholarship to a New England prep school. This was his ticket off the streets of New York and led to an offer from a junior college. Two years later, Roanoke head men's basketball coach and NCAA Coach of the Year Charlie Moir found Jones and offered him an athletic scholarship.
"I really liked...Charlie Moir, who was a class guy and treated his players well," writes Jones. He refers to Moir and his teammates as his "second family." Moir recalls that Jones was "an excellent player. He worked hard for me [and] contributed tremendously to our ball team." Moir's son and current head men's coach, Page Moir, remembers "AJ" as "very outgoing, very likeable and...very confident."
Jones writes of his friendship with Jay Piccola '72 and Hal Johnston '72, both members of the Maroons' 1972 national championship team. Johnston, associate dean of admissions for the College, says, "Once you meet [Jones], you'll never forget him. I learned more about the real world talking with AJ than anywhere else."
After two successful years as a Maroon, Jones landed a spot with a professional team in France and later played in Luxembourg . He continued playing pro ball until he was 38 years old, and he also coached the Luxembourg's men's and women's national teams.
As his athletic career wound down, Jones took a job with a bank. He rose through the ranks to manager of foreign currency exchange at the Dexia International Bank in Luxembourg.
Few could have imagined the path the troubled youth from South Bronx would travel. In his memoir, Jones stresses the positive impact that Roanoke College had on him and calls his time on campus "the best two years of my life."
Page Moir was impressed with the way Jones reflected on his time on campus. Charlie Moir says of his former player, "I'm so proud of him for what he's accomplished."
A self-proclaimed New York street hustler turned professional basketball player and respected European banker-impressive accomplishments, indeed.