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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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There’s a one-man show in town and he has proven to be an incredible resource to local and national educators, businesses and organizations – one that is already being taken advantage of by area schools such as Woodmore, Oregon, Genoa, Rossford, Northwood and Oak Harbor.

Jim Basketball Jones is the founder and star of one of the most successful one-person assemblies in the country.

Though he prefers to stay within a 300 mile radius of Toledo, Jones has been paid thousands of dollars to travel from coast to coast giving inspirational assemblies at local and private schools, corporations, religious organizations and everything in between. Dealing mainly with students and teachers at all levels of education; he customizes his presentations to cater to each audience, and to the topics chosen by the client.

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Jim "Basketball" Jones gives an inspiring and unique presentation to the middle schoolers at Woodmore encouraging anti-bullying, character development and healthy life choices. (Press photo by Stephanie Szozda)

His presentations deal with topics ranging from bullying; character education such as respect, and trustworthiness; personal development and success and also teacher training and corporate speaking.

He feels his personal experiences and struggles enable him to connect with people and to discuss how it’s possible to triumph through adversity.

As a child, Jones was diagnosed with dyslexia, which he explains is “a language-processing issue that slows people down.”

“Some people have issues with the writing and the letters and associating sounds with those letters. It is not a sign of a lack of intelligence because there’re tons of successful, unbelievably gifted and talented dyslexics,” he said. “So it’s more of a learning ‘challenge’ than a learning disability.”

Jones was in a special education class from first through fifth grade and had tutors until 10th grade, when he was officially out of the special education program, but took remedial classes in place of college preparation classes.

“I worked so much on reading and being out of class (in elementary school), I didn’t have the stuff that normal kids would get,” he recalled. “It was very frustrating because I would miss out on so much ‘normal’ education because they would be working on my reading; so my grammar was poor. I really just missed out on the very fundamentals because I wasn’t in those classes.”

Jones recalls not being able to answer a simple story problem because he didn’t know the order the months of the year came in. “It just made it even more of a challenge,” he said.

In sixth grade, Jones started juggling and doing basketball tricks, and in the seventh grade, while competing in a talent show, he discovered his love for entertaining.

In high school Jones soon discovered that he had a dream. His goal was to go to college and earn a degree. This was considered to be an unrealistic and unattainable goal by many and Jones found no lack of discouragement.

He recalls one of the greatest influences in his life was provided by teacher Irene Schuster, in a class he took his senior year entitled, “Reading for the Real World,” designed to help students improve their reading levels.

“She worked with me on reading strategies and took my reading rate my senior year from a second-grade reading level and pretty much doubled the volume of words I read per minute. But she also taught us how to break down studying and break down a book.”

Then Jones took the ACT and received a disappointing score, which included a high of 28 in math and a low of nine in reading.

“The guidance counselor literally said, ‘We don’t really think you should go to college; you’re really not going to be able to make it,’” Jones said. “But what they couldn’t test is my ability to schedule my time, and also, in college, I was able to focus a lot more on numbers than words.”

Jones applied to Bowling Green State University and got accepted on his GPA and class rank alone. He took the skills and discipline he learned from Ms. Schuster to Bowling Green. “That helped me know how to study and how to manage my time.”

Jones would later be given the award of Outstanding Graduating Senior in The College of Business at BGSU. He was also listed in The Wall Street Journal’s Top Business students in the nation. After earning his bachelor’s degree in Finance, he went on the get his MBA at The Ohio State University.

In his presentation at Woodmore High School Feb. 14, Jones admitted to being bullied in school because he had to be in a special class due to his learning disability.

He talked about how it made him feel to be different, and explained how physical activities like juggling and basketball helped to get his mind off of his struggles and allowed him to interact with other kids in an environment where he was not faced with a daunting disadvantage.

He uses the talent show tricks he has perfected to entertain and engage the audience and to punctuate his story – a story about how it’s possible to overcome adversity; how it’s important to disregard the doubts that others proclaim freely, to never let what anyone says prevent you from following your dreams and goals.

For more information, visit www.JimBasketballJones.com or Jim Basketball Jones on Facebook/Google+. To schedule Jones for an assembly call 419-693-8093.

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