RI's Jones keeps his father's memory close

Originally Posted Online: April 18, 2013, 8:40 pm
Last Updated: April 18, 2013, 11:54 pm
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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com

A tattoo was something Rock Island junior sprinter DayQwon Jones wanted for a couple of years, but he knew "mom wouldn't let it happen."

Selling mom on the ink took some time --"a few weeks," Jones said.

The design -- a memorial to his late father Michael -- provided the selling point.

"She saw what it meant to me," Jones said.

Resting on his chest is the tattoo, symbolizing a life cut short and a son who adored his father. A cross reading "in memory of" across the top and "Michael Jones" near the bottom provides Jones with more than just words and a picture.

The artwork serves as a motivation.

"It makes me want to give everything I have for him," Jones said earlier this week. "I feel he's looking down on me. I try to give him all I've got."

From a young age, Jones learned from his father -- a former Rocky mid-distance runner who succumbed to diabetes on June 6, 2006 -- to put everything he had into everything he did. Whenever his name is attached to something, he wants it to be respected.

On the track, that turns Jones into something those in the program truly admire.

"He's a natural leader and has a great personality," Rocky coach Ed Lillis said. "Coaches and kids both respond with him very well."

Dad taught him those lessons.

"No matter what, give 100 percent," Jones recalled his father saying. "Start hard, finish hard."

Years after first hearing the advice, Jones still keeps it close to his heart. Each practice, each race gets maximum effort, a display noticed by those within the program.

All the effort comes inspired from the artwork on his chest. Before every race, Jones touches the tattoo -- located over his heart -- and enters the blocks.

"I have to give everything I've got," Jones said.

The determination comes from the heart, the tattoo purposely placed over it. When reflecting on the day he got it three months ago, Jones pauses briefly.Trying to speak, he needs a few more seconds to gather his thoughts.

"I felt closer to him even though he was gone," Jones said. "It's hard to explain."

Nearly seven years have passed since he lost his father, allowing the pain to somewhat heal. However, talking about it gets difficult.

Lillis said Jones rarely discusses his dad's death.

"We were close. I was a 'daddy's boy,'" Jones said. "All I wanted to do was be with him. I looked up to him. I loved being around him."

One of the hardest moments came two years ago. As a freshman, Jones ran a leg on the Rocks' Class 2A state runner-up 4x400-meter relay. Not having dad around to witness him winning a state medal made it an emotional time.

"It's hard," Jones said. "You always want to share success with the ones you love the most."

Two years later, Jones is a key piece for the Rocks in the sprint events. With all the successes he has experienced this season, one absence makes some days better than others.

"I'd give anything to have him in the stands," Jones said.

Instead, he has a tattoo over the heart to fill the hallow space inside it.

Dad always will be with him.

"It's very inspirational," Jones said. "Even though he's not there in person, I can feel him spiritually."

Track this week

Rock Island Invitational (boys)

When: Tonight
Where: Public Schools Stadium, Rock Island
Times: 4 p.m. (field events) and 4:30 p.m. (track events)
Teams: Alleman, Moline, Rock Island, United Township, Elgin Bartlett, Homewood-Flossmoor, Machesney Park Harlem, Naperville Central, Peoria High, Peoria Richwoods, Plainfield East, Rockford Auburn, Rockford Guilford, South Holland Thornwood, Rockford Auburn, Rockford Guilford, Thornton Fractional North

Ed Schmidt Invitational (coed)

When: Tonight
Where: Wayne Hein Memorial Field, Erie
Times: 4:30 p.m. (field events) and 5 p.m. (track events)
Teams: Erie-Prophetstown, Fulton, Galva, Kewanee, Morrison, Ohio, West Carroll

Rockridge Invitational (coed)

When: Saturday
Where: Rockridge High School, Edgington
Times: 11 a.m. (field events) and 1 p.m. (track events)
Teams: Mercer County, Monmouth-Roseville, Orion, Ridgewood, Sherrard, United, Knoxville, ROWVA

Red Storm Invitational (coed)

When: Monday
Where: April Zorn Memorial Stadium, Monmouth
Times: 4 p.m. (field events) and 4:45 p.m. (track events)
Teams: Orion, Ridgewood, United, Knoxville, LaSalle-Peru, Rushville-Industry, West Central

Phil Sailer Invitational (girls)

When: Tuesday
Where: Ericson Field, Rock Island
Times: 5:30 p.m. (field events) and 6:15 p.m. (track events)
Teams: Alleman, Annawan-Wethersfield, Monmouth-Roseville, Ridgewood, Riverdale, Rockridge, Sherrard, Sterling Newman, United Township

Golden Eagle Invitational (boys)

When: Wednesday
Where: Clifford King Field, Sherrard
Times: 4 p.m. (field events) and 4:30 p.m. (track events)
Teams: Mercer County, Monmouth-Roseville, Orion, Ridgewood, Rockridge, ROWVA, Sherrard, United


Local events heading

  Today is Thursday, Oct. 2, the 275th day of 2014. There are 90 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The ladies have adopted the fashion of wearing representations of insects in the flowers on their bonnets. Some look very natural.
1889 -- 125 years ago: T.F. Cary, former Rock Island alderman, has accepted a position as salesman for a Chicago wallpaper house and plans to move to that city.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Work on the new telephone building on 18th Street between 6th and 7th avenues is progressing rapidly.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Rock Island's new theater at 3rd Avenue and 19th Street will have a name significant of its location. The "Rocket" is scheduled to open Thanksgiving Day.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Two of Rock Island's newest water towers were vandalized last night, including the one at 38th Street and 31st Avenue, where police took five Moline boys into custody about 9 p.m..
1989 -- 25 years ago: Some of us who live in the Quad-Cities take the Mississippi River for granted, or at least we used to. But the river is not taken for granted by our visitors. And most Quad-Citians are realizing the importance of the river to this area as increased emphasis is placed on tourism.

(More History)