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Parker Middle student honored for achievement

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James Moore, right, and Principal John Milliner-Williams, left, present the 2018 Jimmy Jones Most Outstanding Achievement Award to Jahsun L. Ward on July 7, 2018, at Parker Middle School.

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From Contributed Reports

Saturday, May 25, 2019

At the end of the 2017-18 school year, the Moore family, the matriarch of whom was Christanna Dancy Moore, decided to give something very extraordinary back to the Rocky Mount community.

After formally establishing and naming it a few weeks earlier, James Moore presented the inaugural Jimmy Jones Most Outstanding Achievement Award to Jahsun L. Ward on July 7, 2018, at J.W. Parker Middle School for his exceptional performance on the basketball court, his academic excellence and his congenial disposition. This award consisted of a massive 58½-inch blue and gold two-tiered trophy, beautifully adorned with several basketball figures.

The trophy presentation took place just outside of the principal’s office shortly after the awards ceremony concluded in the gymnasium. Moore made the trophy presentation along with the assistance of Principal John F. Milliner-Willlians and basketball coach Quentin Rogers, as a small but very enthusiastic crowd of onlookers took photos and applauded.

This prestigious award honors the memory of one of Rocky Mount’s favorite sons, James William Jones Jr., who started his organized basketball career at Parker in the spring of 1963 and who proved to be an absolute sensation on the basketball court there at such an early age.

Moreover, Jimmy Jones’s natural proclivity toward the field of sports was abundantly evident after he was given a basketball for Christmas at the early age of 4 years old. This is where his story in the sport of basketball began. Jimmy kept that basketball with him both day and night. For him the street light near his home was a vital asset, for at night he often dribbled and perfected his moves to use against his defenders.

When he played for hours on the outdoor court at Baskerville Elementary School, he would take breaks from playing to go home to get water to drink, then return to play more. Jimmy Jones was a joy to watch. He gained the respect of his opponents, many of whom regarded him as a gentleman both on and off the basketball court.

Jimmy Jones went on from Parker to Booker T. Washington Senior High School, where he distinguished himself as one of the most phenomenal basketball players that ever set foot on the court there. Jimmy demonstrated his athletic prowess and good sportsmanship in several sports, but he made his indelible mark there most especially playing basketball.

In addition, while at home his insatiable thirst for knowledge of the game and his passionate desire to perfect his skills in the sport prompted him to watch every major professional basketball game that he could see on television. Jimmy watched the greats and studied very closely their many moves and skills. Afterwards he would go out on the neighborhood courts and the one at school to practice very intensely until he successfully mastered their moves and skills, incorporating them as integral parts of his own playing style. At Booker T, as Otto Moore often exclaimed, “Jimmy’s name is synonymous with basketball!”

Wearing jersey number 33 and playing the position of power forward, Jimmy Jones left it all on the court whenever he played basketball. Whether playing the one-three-one defense or the two-one-two, Jimmy personified the epitome of the good team player. Although he was not selfish on the court, he could still be relied upon to score in double figures in every basketball game he played, using a multiplicity of shots he mastered, namely layups, free throws, hook shots, jump shots, set shots and even an occasional attempt at dunking, even though his 6-feet, 2-inch height was not conducive to such a shot.

Interestingly enough, Jimmy Jones was very skillful in making tricky layups using his left hand on occasions when he was positioned to the left of or under the backboard. He moved on that court like a track star and often made passes to other teammates behind his back. Many of his near half-court shots were nothing but nets and were made with an exceptional degree of precision and accuracy.

Presently, this coveted award is slated to be presented at Parker annually, so all varsity basketball players interested in winning it must bring their “A” game to the court.

After graduating from high school in 1968, Jimmy pursued his undergraduate education at N.C. Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount and N.C. Central University in Durham. At both institutions he was an A-B student, as he had been from kindergarten throughout his public school career. For Jimmy, academics and sports went hand in hand.

Furthermore, Jimmy put his educational career on hold and left N.C. Central in the early 1970s after being drafted to serve our country in the Vietnam war. After serving his time in the U.S. Army, he returned home to work and take care of his family. Unfortunately, in the late 1970’s Jimmy was involved in a terrible car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, rendering him unable to play basketball anymore.

Despite this tragic occurrence, his mind remained very sharp. He passed his wisdom acquired through experience, his knowledge and love of the game and his sound advice about life itself to others to help them improve and become their best.

Jimmy Jones was truly a remarkable human being. He was a tremendous inspiration to so many people with whom he came in contact. If you met him, you met a real friend. He was such a personable sportsman with a great sense of humor.

According to his sister, Joan Lorraine Harper, “Our parents would be overjoyed to know this award” honoring Jimmy is being given “to a worthy recipient, for July 7 is our mom’s birthday.”

This year, the Jimmy Jones Most Outstanding Achievement Award was presented at Parker Middle School on Tuesday to Jamal Townsend, a very gifted young athlete who, like Jimmy, is academically brilliant and very personable. Many of Jimmy’s relatives, friends and classmates were invited to share in this momentous occasion.

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