Jim “Basketball” Jones, a motivational speaker and ball trick genius, stopped by Nord Middle School on Nov. 28 to put his unique “spin” on messages of positivity, respect, and accepting the consequence of choices made.
As a child, Jones was diagnosed with dyslexia, which caused him to undergo five years of speech therapy before he was able to attend a typical classroom.
Jones first began to learn the nuances of spinning a basketball in sixth grade, a practice he said was born from a desire to fit in.
“Doing something kind doesn’t have to be anything big,” he told the student-packed gymnasium. “You don’t even have to be the originator of the idea. You can just join in. Jump on kindness. No one on the planet can make you happy or sad without your permission.”
Toward the end of high school, Jones was still only able to read 86 words per minute but worked to double that by the end of his senior year. He went on to graduate from Bowling Green State University.
Since then, he’s performed his ball spinning routine at NBA games and spoken at more than 7,500 school assemblies.
Jones asked Nord students to turn toward classmates sitting next to them on the bleachers and say something kind while offering them advice on dealing with bullying online or in person. Multiple students were also selected to help perform ball spinning tricks.
“If someone is picking on you, they only win if you show them a reaction,” he said. “If you just say, ‘Thanks for the information, love you,’ and don’t let it bother you, they lose. Words can’t sink your ship.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.