Spartan Football ICON Clint Jones Talks About His Hall of Fame Honor and His Journey to Michigan State

Spencer Turkin

When Clint Jones returns to East Lansing to receive his Hall of Fame honor, he will undoubtedly have all kinds of emotions running through his head.  The sentiments may remind him
of his days in green and white in the 1960’s or they may even take him further back than that. Though college is the time when most boys become men, it isn’t the only part of a person’s life that
can shape it.

Jones grew up in Cleveland, Ohio with his mother who was a single parent. He did not grow up with money, as his mother worked jobs that didn’t pay more than a dollar an hour. Growing up in a culturally diverse portion of town, Jones found himself wanting to get a catholic education, and his mother obliged.

“We didn’t have a lot of money and I asked [my mother] if I could go to Catholic school,” said Jones.  “On the east side of Cleveland, the two dominant schools were Benedictine and Cathedral Latin in football. All the kids in my neighborhood went to Benedictine, and I didn’t want to go there. I wanted to go to Cathedral Latin because you had to take a test to get in there, similar to college.”

Life wasn’t always easy for Jones. He had to over come many personal struggles to overcome and turned to athletics to get him through. “I had learning disabilities, but back then they didn’t know about learning disabilities. I had Dyslexia and I stuttered,” said Jones. “I had a lot of insecurities and there were a lot of gangs in the neighborhood at the time so I started training with a fighter named Jimmy Reeves who was a middle weight champion. But my boxing career ended when my mother pulled me out of the ring, I was 13 at the time.”

Football didn’t always look promising for Jones. Playing time was at a premium in at his High School.

“During my freshman year, we were losing to Benedictine 50-0, and I got to play the last 5 seconds of the games. My coach just threw me in,” said Jones. “Other than Ohio State, we had the second highest football attendance in Ohio.”

He was forced to quit sports altogether during his junior year, in order to help his mother pay for his private education.

“My junior year I went in and told the athletic Director that I had to help earn money with my mother to pay for school,” explained Jones. “ Eventually, I got a scholarship
for the rest of school and came back to football.”

Having been blessed with God-given athletic ability Jones had the opportunity to earn a college scholarship. Michigan State wasn’t originally looking at Jones for football, but we know how that story ends.

“Some other schools came to recruit me, including Ohio State and Woody Hayes,” said Jones. “Michigan State came but they were there for two of my teammates. They asked my coach about me, and that’s how I ended up at Michigan State.”

When Jones steps onto the gridiron at Spartans Stadium to receive his honor, there will be tears rolling down his face, one by one as he stands and soaks in the roar of 80,000 Spartans fans welcoming him back. The most important feeling he will have
though is selflessness.

“I will probably be like a baby,” said Jones. “I get so sentimental about stuff. It is going to be [a special moment.] It’s special right now. I can’t tell you how special it is. Hopefully
by then I’ll have the words but it’s much, much bigger than Clinton Jones, Il tell you that.”


Hondo's Blog