Former Merrimack men's basketball player Kenny Jones (2003-07) took a very unique career path after graduation in 2007. Jones went from Northeast-10 Defensive Player of the Year to a model and actor.
Jones entered the modeling industry after meeting a member of the gym that he worked at in San Antonio. The member was an actor who convinced Jones that he would be a good fit with his agency.
"He told me that due to my energy level in the gym and my physical form that I would be a great fit for acting and modeling and asked if I would ever consider it," says Jones. "I was very reserved at first but then I decided I may as well give it a shot. I auditioned for his agency and later signed with them."
Shortly after signing with his first agency, Jones was asked about auditioning for his first modeling gig. He didn't know what to expect but he decided to give it a shot.
"Two months after signing my one year contract I was asked to audition for the number one men's clothing store in the US, Men's Wearhouse," stated Jones. "About 10 days after my audition, I received a call from my agent telling me that I had been booked. The commercials were shot in three days in February of 2012 and started airing during the NBA Playoffs in May. I couldn't have written it better."
Jones didn't just settle in as a model as he has become very involved in music recently, working on his own projects and working with international artists. He also just published his first poetry book, Being R.E.A.L. (Respected.Educated.Accepting,Limitless).
"Being R.E.A.L. gives people insight to my path towards success in order to give hope to those who may feel as though there is nothing out there for them," stated Jones. "The official release date of the book was June 16, 2012. I have been speaking with group homes, schools, and churches since the release of my book. I am looking to make my way not only throughout the US spreading my message, but the world."
Jones has been through many hardships throughout his life to get where he is today and he believes that his experiences will help people in their future hardships as well.
"I was the man of the house at the age of three due to an absent father," remembers Jones. "My mother battled addiction throughout my childhood but always did all she could to make sure we ate and had clothes on our back. My mother was working two to three jobs to try to keep a roof over our heads, but unfortunate circumstances caused us to eat at the soup kitchen often as well as live in a homeless shelter for a year."
With life hardships taking a toll on Jones, the defying moment in his life happened at the age of 15 when his cousin and role model died.
"At 15 my cousin's death was the turning point in my life," said Jones. "He was the father figure I never had, he was my role model. He told me after I beat him for the first time while playing one on one that I had an opportunity to make the family proud and do more with my life with the game of basketball. Family first is and will forever be my brand. It is all people ever need to know about me to understand why I challenge myself daily to do more. It's what he wanted from me."
After working hard and excelling at sports during his four year high school career, Jones garnered interest from many division I schools in multiple sports. His heart was with the game of basketball and after many visits to big time programs, Jones settled on Merrimack.
"The sole reason I came to Merrimack was because of Bert Hammel and what he stood for," stated Jones. "He told me on my official visit [you are talented but we have a lot of experienced guys, you starting for this team is very unlikely]. That's all I needed to hear to know that Merrimack was where I belonged. I ended up starting all but the first three games in my career at Merrimack."
Jones closed out his impressive Warrior career with 1,409 career points, good for 16th on the all-time scoring list at Merrimack. He also earned the Northeast-10 Defensive Player of the Year award as a senior, just as he promised coach Hammel he would during his freshman year.
His playing days were not over upon graduation, as Jones received interest from many international teams, signing shortly after with Aanekosken Huima in Finland. In his first season of international competition, Jones averaged 21 points, five rebounds and three assists per game before suffering a season ending injury.
Jones went on to play two more injury filled seasons overseas, including his final season with the NVV Lions in Germany, where he was not only a player but also the head coach.
No matter how hard life may seem, you can turn your life around in many ways and playing sports is one of those ways.
"Athletics was my ticket out of poverty and gave me a great respect and love for the game of basketball," said Jones. "I am a person who has overcome hardship, and I'm sure there are more to come but I can't wait because I have no plans on stopping anytime soon. I love the challenge."
Are you a Merrimack alum with an interesting or unique career and want to share your story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.