Cyrus Jones Jr. doesn't need to hear his father say how proud he is of him. It's a fact he's known for a long time.
But in his 22 years, he's given his dad plenty of special moments when Cyrus Sr. simply couldn't help himself.
The latest and biggest came April 29, when Cyrus Jr. stepped away from family and friends at Mustang Alley's Bar, Bowling and Bistro in Baltimore to take the biggest phone call of his life.
After getting congratulations from Bill Belichick on becoming a New England Patriot — the 60th player taken in the NFL draft — Jones returned to a raucous celebration and quickly found his dad.
They smiled at each other and then they hugged.
Cyrus Sr. told his son that he loved him and was proud.
"That's what you work for," Cyrus Jr. said. "That's what is most important to me – making my parents proud. And just hearing him say he was proud of me was a great feeling."
A cornerback/return specialist and two-time national champion at Alabama, Cyrus Jr. left for Foxboro, Mass., last week to meet his new coaches and teammates and begin the work of his lifelong dream.
Getting there, from Pop Warner to a standout career at Gilman and then to Alabama, was a determined journey filled with championships and bruises and memorable winning touchdowns. Cyrus Sr., a basketball standout at Dunbar and then West Virginia, was there for every step.
From the beginning, Cyrus Sr. nurtured his son's natural competitiveness and helped develop his skills, always having in the back of his mind how he didn't have his father around to do that for him while he followed his own dream of becoming an NBA player.
"Watching Cyrus Sr. and CJ together, it really melts my heart to see how Cyrus not having a father figure in his life on a regular basis really matured him as a dad," said Tomika Jones, Sr.'s wife and Jr.'s mother. "He took CJ under his wing and basically gave him everything he didn't get when he was young. They have a very special bond."
Cyrus Sr. quickly realized his son was highly gifted athletically.
When he was 4 years old, Cyrus Jr. had no trouble getting a basketball to the rim, even making some shots. His speed showed up early, as well, with dad having a hard time chasing him around the house. When Sr. did his daily push-ups and sit-ups, so did Jr.
Cyrus Sr. and Tomika (the couple met during high school and have been married 17 years) always wanted to make sure their children had the best opportunity to succeed.
Gilman provided Cyrus Jr. with just that, both athletically and academically. In his senior year, he led the Greyhounds to Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championships in football, basketball (B Conference) and outdoor track and field. He was named The Sun's Male Athlete of the Year.
In his four years at Alabama, Cyrus Jr. developed into a fine cornerback and emerged as one of the country's finest kick returners, instrumental in the two national championships and earning his bachelor's degree in communication.
Many NFL experts believe the 5-foot-10 Cyrus Jr. will be an ideal fit in the Patriots secondary — likely the slot corner — as well as on special teams. The Patriots, the NFL's most successful team for more than a decade, also fits Cyrus Jr..
"For someone to have so much success everywhere they went throughout their life is pretty special," Cyrus Sr. said. "And I think that says a lot about who he is as a person."
Shortly after the phone call from Belichick that special Friday night, ESPN had caught up with the news. There was no sound playing at Mustang Alley's, but the ticker below told the story and then a photo of Cyrus Jr. appeared.
Cyrus Jr. describes it as the best feeling he ever had, a moment he was working toward and waiting on for a long time. The smile, the hug and the words from dad played a big part.
"My dad means the world to me," Cyrus Jr. said. "He's the one that put the ball in my hands. Even though I never played for him, I call him my first coach. He was always the one guiding me, showing me right from wrong, and showing me how to conduct myself. He showed me things I needed to know as an athlete and how to work and stay disciplined. That all carried me to where I am right now. Without my dad, I wouldn't be here and I wouldn't have the success I've had. So I owe it all to him and my mom."