ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Orioles center fielder Adam Jones prefers to go about his work in the community without a lot of fanfare, but he didn’t really have a choice after his big contribution to the Mamie Johnson Little League program went viral.
The Mamie Johnson All-Star team is the first predominantly black team to reach the Mid-Atlantic regional tournament and earn a chance to win a place in the Little League World Series.
Jones saw a tweet asking for help sending the team to Connecticut and he responded with a contribution of $8,500. Others responded, too, and combined to raise enough money that Jones’ contribution will give the league a nest egg for future endeavors.
Though Jones doesn’t need to explain himself — his efforts on behalf of kids in Baltimore and San Diego are well known — he said the reason he joined in this effort was pretty simple.
“They deserved it,” Jones said. “They won their league and an opportunity to further their season. It’s something that’s easy for me to do. It’s easy for me to comprehend what these kids, what they’ve been through … what they’ve earned and deserved.”
Jones was one of those kids, and he remembers the people who helped him along the way.
“Exactly, someone gave me an opportunity and look where I’m at now,’’ he said. “So, say 10, 15 years from now, somebody can be saying the same thing that ‘I did this and Adam Jones helped me out,’ or ‘this player helped me out’ or ‘that player helped me out.’ It’s like what Snoop [Dogg] does. He’s got about five or six people in the NFL right now from his football camps that he does, the football league he does in LA.
“That’s what it’s about, giving the next generation opportunity. If you run with the opportunity, it’s all up to you, but if I give you the opportunity, that part right there is where I’m happy.”
He pointed to the efforts of other African-American athletes who make significant change in the communities they came out of, most notably basketball superstar LeBron James, who just opened a school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
“These type of things happen all over. You see what LeBron did opening a school. DRose [former NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose] pledged $400,000 and I’m sure I’m missing some other people who have done very great things in their respective communities,” he said. “Us black men that are successful, we see ourselves in these kids, so it’s not hard to give back. It’s not hard at all, really.”
James is in a different philanthropic stratosphere, of course. Jones isn’t focused on one giant charitable project. He has chosen during his career to provide help in a variety of areas and has been honored with several major awards for his community outreach.
“I’ve always kept myself open with what I want to do,” Jones said. “I can’t say I want to work just with this, or just work with that. Some days I want to work with these youths. Some days I want to work with these [other] youths. Sometimes I want to work with single mothers. Me and my aunt were talking the other day about a program in San Diego to help single mothers.
“These single mothers deserve a lot. I don’t know how many people were raised by them here, but you see how strong a single mother is, with three, four, five kids, and they need help. I’ve never really wanted to limit myself to one [cause] because you tie yourself up to one. Sometimes you want to work in different facets of charitable work.”
What Jones doesn’t particularly like to do is tell everybody about it.
“The thing is that [the media] doesn’t need to know everything that I’m doing,” he said. “I like to do things just to do them. I think the power of social media has created this storm, but it’s good storm to have. It creates awareness.”