Perry Jones III’s name has always been paired with the word potential. The five star recruit burst on the scene at Baylor after his freshman season…and that’s where he says his biggest career regret happened.
Jones says, "I should've left after my first year, but there was a lockout. So I didn't know what that is. I don't know what was going to happen. My mother was a little sick at the time so I didn't want to go overseas and leave.
Instead Jones played his sophomore season, and then entered the NBA draft. An expected lottery choice. Instead, Jones was taken 28th. Towards the bottom of the first round. Worries of a knee injury dropped Jones to late in the first round and his time with the thunder never materialized…even with Kevin Durant once saying Jones was the most athletic player on OKC’s roster.
Jones said, "I wish they could pick me now that they're rebuilding. Unfortunately I had to play behind some great all-stars and they didn't need me back then."
But his family did. Treaquan blocker, Jones’ cousin and someone he called his best friend, was in dire need of something more than love could provide.
"He was born with a hole in his heart. He had a heart transplant at a young age," Jones said. "He had a transplant when he was 17."
And that’s where Jones’ thunder career gets completely misunderstood.
"It really got hard my third year with the Thunder. My cousin got sick and everything," Jones said. "He went to Dallas. A lot of people do not know, but I went Dallas after every game, after every practice. If we had an off day I was in Dallas. I would wake up early in the morning and come back to Oklahoma City for practice or the game or whatever."
"I had to keep things real quiet because I know people would've tried to keep me from going to see my cousin and everything," Jones adds. "Then I got traded to Boston and then it got harder to see him, but I still whenever we had an off day, "Hey, I'm going to Dallas. I'll see y'all when I come back" and stuff like that, but his heart was failing. He was next up on the list to get a heart, but then his kidney failed. It was hard because I wasn't there when he passed."
At the age of 25, his cousin, his best friend, the person he played the game for was gone. Shortly after, Jones was cut by the Celtics…but quitting wasn’t an option for Jones. He played in the g league, overseas, and battled a multitude of injuries. But when he got back to full strength, Gilbert Arenas called and asked him to join the enemies in Ice Cube’s Big 3 and for him, he says it’s given him his smile back.
Jones says, "All I heard was Ice Cube's albums growing up because that's all my dad used to play. It's cool the guy from Friday is like, "Hey, what's up Perry?" It's something that everybody doesn't get to experience. It's a once and a lifetime type of thing."
But in the end, Jones’ ultimate goal is to be back in the NBA and leaving a legacy his family and cousin can be proud of.
"I do have goals set to get back in the NBA. I wish I was still here," Jones says laughing. "I am not even going to lie this is one place I definitely consider home. I want to be this because I know I got it. I just gotta showcase it. It's been hard to showcase it because I've been in my own head and everything like that. I'm here and this is where the peace is. The peace is on the court for me. It's somewhere I want to be. I keep trying everyday and I am going to keep trying until I can't try anymore."