In the sports world, no trio of brothers will command the spotlight this weekend like Jon, Chandler and Arthur Jones III.
Jon Jones will defend the Ultimate Fighting Championship light-heavyweight title against Vitor Belfort in the main event of Saturday night’s UFC 152 pay-per-view show emanating from Toronto. Chandler and Arthur — both of whom are NFL defensive linemen — will then be on opposite sides of the field Sunday night for New England and Baltimore respectively when the Ravens host the Patriots.
Soaking it all in will be Arthur and Camille Jones, whose personal story of overcoming obstacles to raise three professional athletes is impressive in its own right.
“All of this hasn’t dawned on me yet,” Jon Jones told FOXSports.com about his family’s rise to prominence. “We’re all still at the very young stages of our careers. I have this thing where I’m really big against complacency, so I don’t want accept the attitude like, ‘We did it!’ because we haven’t done it yet. Things could go wrong. You’re on top of the world one year and the next you’re borrowing money.
“I think there’s much more to come, but I am really happy for my parents. They can look at this being a success story at this point.”
Jon Jones has achieved the most individual success. At only 25 years old, “Bones” is already regarded as arguably the world’s best pound-for-pound mixed martial arts fighter. The heavily favored Jones can improve his MMA record to 16-1 with a fifth consecutive UFC title defense by defeating Belfort.
Chandler Jones is starting to forge a marquee name for himself after a relatively unheralded football career at Syracuse University. A surprise first-round pick in April’s NFL draft, the 22-year-old Jones has already become a starter and forced fumbles in each of New England’s first two games.
As for Arthur, he has served primarily as a Ravens backup during his first three NFL seasons. Arthur, though, may be the toughest of the Joneses. Until they stopped roughhousing in their high school years, Jon and Chandler needed to join forces to get the better of an older brother who at age 26 now stands at 6 feet 3 and 315 pounds.
“There was a time where me and Jon beat up Arthur and actually got into a lot of trouble for it,” Chandler recalled in a telephone interview. “We were planning to go the next day to an amusement park and our mom wouldn’t let us go.”
Camille realized by then that the sons she affectionately referred to as “little heathens” weren’t on track to becoming preachers like her husband as she once believed. All three had turned to sports that included amateur wrestling, a practice that began in the Jones household after the family had moved from a rough neighborhood in Rochester, NY, to the small town of Endicott located three hours away in the southern-middle of the state.
The battles that the brothers and even their father staged while living on the top floor of a small two-story house served as an early precursor to Jon stepping into UFC’s Octagon. The action got so out of hand that Arthur laid wrestling mats in the basement to try and give the house’s other tenants a break from the racket above.
“Our parents always worked so they wouldn’t get home until 5 or 6 at night. We had 3 hours to survive,” Jon said with a laugh. “It was a jungle. We fought over food, cereal or what game we were going to play.
“I have no idea how the family living under us could stand it. I’m sure it was like being at war with all the bumping and banging. The lady would tell us how she’d have to pick up broken picture frames that had her dad’s photo in it. She must have hated us.”
But teenage life wasn’t all fun and games for the Jones family. Carmen, who was the oldest Jones sibling, died of brain cancer at the age of 18. The brothers helped take care of her during that heartbreaking ordeal much like they are trying to financially assist their mother with her own health problems.
Camille, who worked a developmental aid for the mentally handicapped, has lost almost all of her sight due to complications from diabetes. Currently on dialysis, she is meeting with a specialist in Baltimore this week about receiving a kidney transplant. Chandler is paying for her medical insurance while Jon has hired a nurse and chef to try and help her eat healthier.
Such giving is par for the course with the Joneses. Jon will always appreciate the fact his parents moved to Endicott to give him and his siblings the chance for better educational and social opportunities.
“I remember my dad telling our family we were going so we could have a better life,” Jon said.
Jon still leans heavily on his parents before the fights they attend.
“At the hotel before I head to the arena, they will pray with me,” Jon said. “They get really passionate and ask God to protect me and my opponent. They also thank Him for the position that I’m in and the opportunity. Every time they finish, I feel so much better and reassured.”
Based on the athleticism he displays in UFC, Jon seems like a natural for football just like his brothers — especially at tight end if he were to add more beef to his lanky 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame. Jones, though, says there’s a very good reason why he stuck with amateur wrestling and other fighting disciplines rather than stepping onto the gridiron.
“I can’t catch at all,” he said. “I can’t throw a ball straight or accurately. I’m just not very coordinated in any sport involving objects like a football, baseball bat or volleyball.
“Wrestling was always my thing. You’re able to grab someone and test their willpower.”
Jon said his brother Arthur may try to pursue a UFC career once his NFL days are done. Until then, Camille and the elder Arthur are going to savor every moment of what their sons are accomplishing in both football and fighting. They will travel to Toronto to watch Jon fight on Saturday night, then head to Baltimore for the Sunday night Ravens-Patriots game.
“Life hasn’t changed that much,” Arthur Jones II said. “People at the church are very happy for me, but there’s no big brouhaha of, ‘That’s Mr. Jones. He’s a famous dad.”
Thanks to his sons, that may change after this weekend.