Ravens' Arthur Jones overcame injury, death of sister on path to NFL
"It was just a rough year," said the now-25-year-old, shaking his head. "I just kept smiling and kept having tunnel vision knowing that God has a plan and everything happens for a reason."
When the Ravens selected Arthur in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL draft, they knew they were getting a tough, selfless and competitive defensive lineman who struggled as a senior due to injury.
"(After) his junior year, Arthur was one of our top 20 rated players based off spring scouting," Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said. "(Northeast area scout) Andy Weidl had studied him and really thought highly of him, in terms of a fit in our defensive scheme. ... (He) would take on blocks, free guys up, but he also had the ability to make plays on his own."
Arthur said he loves it in Baltimore and he still believes that he made the right decision to stay at Syracuse instead of going pro early. When Chandler, 21, asked his oldest brother for career advice after recording 39 tackles and 4.5 sacks as a junior, Arthur told him to follow his heart.
"I saw what happened to Art after his junior year and how he got hurt," said Chandler, who is on track to graduate in May. "I would be lying to you if I told you that it didn't (play a part in my decision). ... He told me, 'Remember what happened to me.' But he didn't say to leave or stay."
Chandler said that the NFL's Draft Advisory Board has projected him to be a third-round pick.
Jon and Chandler had always looked up to their oldest brother for guidance and inspiration. But the Jones boys learned to rely on each other when their older sister, Carmen, was diagnosed with brain cancer and quickly grew seriously ill. She died at age 17 when Arthur was in eighth grade.
"She was an angel. You ask God, 'Why?' But I guess God had a better plan for her," Arthur said.
An adolescent, Arthur didn't really understand what cancer was. He figured Carmen would get better, just like that. She had to. He struggled to come to grips with her fading health as her motor skills declined and she was unable to do the things she loved, like playing the piano. But he got some comfort knowing they had grown closer than ever.
With his father, Arthur Jones Jr., who is a pastor in Binghamton, N.Y., and his mother, who used to work with the mentally handicapped before complications from diabetes caused her kidneys to fail, tending to Carmen during her two-year battle with cancer, the brothers survived the difficult and confusing time together. There were left at times to fend for themselves until Carmen was released from the hospital and spent the rest of her life in their home.
"We had to raise each other and look out for each other and cook for each other," Jon said. "Me, Arthur and Chandler, we had to keep each other strong. We really fed off each other's energy."
"It brought us all closer. It made that puzzle that much tighter," added Arthur.
Growing up, the brothers were nearly inseparable _ that's what happens when you cram three boys into one bedroom _ but being a year apart in age, Arthur and Jon were particularly tight. They went to the same schools. They ate lunch together every day. They had the same friends. The three brothers even made their own code language that they would prefer stays top-secret.
"We can talk about someone in the room with us," Jon said. "They have no clue we're talking about them and we're speaking perfectly clear English. But we can't really share it with anyone else."
They would stay up late playing the "NFL Blitz" video game with the sound off so their parents would think they were sleeping. And Jon desperately wanted to beat his big bro at anything.
"I was always the one who tried to make a competition out of things because Arthur was good at everything," Jon said. "Arthur is an awesome older brother to have. He's everything, man. ... No matter what's going on in my life, I'll always have Arthur there as my right-hand man."
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