Jones Backed By Family, Faith
By Haley Hirai
Lazeric Jones loves singing - just as long as it's not in front of anybody. Although he has no problem playing basketball in front of thousands of fans, the reserved UCLA point guard refuses to let anyone hear him belt out his favorite R&B and gospel tunes other than his parents and close family.
Jones' inner circle of his parents Allen and Trina and younger brother Allen, Jr. are instrumental parts of his life.
"My family at home is the reason why I am still playing basketball. They are part of me. Regardless of being so far away from home, they've always been there for any uplifting I've needed. I couldn't live without them," said Jones.
A Chicago native, Jones transferred to UCLA from John A. Logan College in Carterville, Ill. prior to the 2010-2011 season. Despite injuring his left wrist last February, he played through the pain and was the only Bruin to start every game.
"[Lazeric] has really worked hard. He benefited a lot from getting healthy again," said head coach Ben Howland. "He played with his left hand, not being able to even move it half of the year last year, which is really hard. He showed a lot of toughness to get it up through all that."
Jones attributes that toughness to his upbringing in his hometown of Chicago, where the mentality is to be tough, because "the strong survive."
The unique name Lazeric reflects Jones' close connections with his family and his religion. In her studies of the Bible, Trina Jones was particularly interested in the story of Lazarus, who Jesus brought back to life four days after his death. She liked how as the one that was chosen to be resurrected, Lazarus was in a way, God's chosen one. She put her own spin on the name, and that's how Lazeric became Lazeric.
Jones' uncle, who was there when he was born, nicknamed baby Lazeric "Zeke", after legendary Detroit Pistons point guard Isiah Thomas, his favorite player. From a young age, Jones' family taught him about the importance of religion.
"It helps on the court to know that God has my back. I probably wouldn't be playing basketball if it weren't for my parents. They were always there for me; they took me to church, and they helped me understand that God came first," said Jones.
Jones has carried those values with him into his life at UCLA. Every Tuesday, he participates in Athletes in Action, a religious group for UCLA student-athletes. Bruins from any sport gather to study the Bible and share how their own personal stories and experiences with religion have helped to shape their lives.
"I play basketball; I'm not a basketball player. It doesn't define me. God has blessed me with a talent, but it's not who I am," said Jones.
A sociology major, Jones hopes to give back to the kids in Chicago after his basketball career is over. He has fond memories of older role models that came back to the city to help and guide him along when he was younger.
Jones also wants to take singing lessons and learn how to play the piano after graduation, so one day he can sing in front of everyone.