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Allen Jones grew up in a public housing project in the South Bronx at a time-the 1950s-when that neighborhood was a place of optimism and hope for upwardly mobile Black and Latino families. Brought up in a two-parent household, with many neighborhood mentors, Jones led an almost charmed life as a budding basketball star until his teen years, when his once peaceful neighborhood was torn by job losses, white flight, and a crippling drug epidemic. Drawn into the heroin trade, first as a user, then as a dealer, Jones spent four months on Rikers Island, where he experienced a crisis of conscience and a determination to turn his life around. Sent to a New England prep school upon his release, Jones used his basketball skills and street smarts to forge a life outside the Bronx, first as a college athlete in the South, then as a professional basketball player, radio personality, and banker in Europe.
A brilliant storyteller with a gift for dialogue, Jones brings Bronx streets and housing projects to life as places of possibility as well as tragedy, where racism and economic hardship never completely suppressed the resilient spirit of its residents. A book that will change the way people view the South Bronx.
This is a story that can be appreciated by all walks of life, on and off the court, in and out of the streets, novice and expert of the social norms of the ghetto, as its message rings true for all of humanity.-Pamela Lewis, Bronx Historical Society Journal
Few could have imagined the path the troubled youth would travel. Leaving behind a life of drugs and crime, Allen Jones became an international banker.-Roanoake College Magazine
A chronicle of Jones' life, from his youth in a Bronx housing development to a career as a professional basketball player in Europe.-Columbia College Today
Posted October 7, 2009
For much of the time I was reading this book (which is a very quick read), I kept asking myself: "Why was this book even written? What about this man's story is unique and worthy of being published as a book?"
By the end, though, I concluded that it is a story worth telling, and reading, not because Mr. Jones is such a fine human being (he's not), or because he's accomplished things that have made a difference in the world (he hasn't), but rather because he survived. And, given where he came from and what he's been through, that's reason enough, I think, and worthy of the book he has written.
Mr. Jones is not a professional writer, but that is part of the book's appeal; his story is raw and real. Reader beware: there is some very rough language in the book, and the author is not necessarily a likable man, having done some very bad things in his life. But, the book provides a window into a time and place that most of us have never experienced and likely prefer to not think about, but are important for us to see and know.
On balance, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to those who have an interest in the Bronx, African-American culture and history, and the story of one man's journey from humble beginnings to ... well, not so much triumph, but at least stability and a better life. From that story I think the reader can benefit and learn some lessons that can be applied to his or her own life.