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
Today is Thursday, Dec. 12, the 346th day of 2013. There are 19 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: Two boys who haul coal from Coal Valley to Davenport were arrested yesterday for running their teams through the city street at a furious rate. 1888 -- 125 years ago: E.H. Barker dislocated his left wrist and suffered a compound fracture of the right wrist when he fell from the roof of his icehouse. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Lou Harris was elected county superintendent of schools to fill the unexpired term of the late S.J. Ferguson. 1938 -- 75 years ago: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a state must give equality in educational privileges to white and Negro law students. 1963 -- 50 years ago: About 300 employees of the Augustana Book Concern, staff members of the Board of Publication of the Lutheran Church in America, as well as friends of the community and out-of-town guests honored Dr. Birger Swenson at the annual Christmas dinner of the Augustana Book Concern last night in Westerlin Hall on the Augustana College campus. 1988 -- 25 years ago: The Christmas shopping season began early this year and continues to bring out shoppers in record numbers, according to Quad-Cities retailers interviewed today.