Jones was a featured speaker during the UNC Black Alumni Reunion’s recent 30th anniversary celebration. Her talk was an emotional roller
coaster ride, interrupted several times when she recognized old friends in the audience.
here talking to you about my story.
Nobody would have guessed that I would
have been playing in the WNBA at 34
years old after not having played in 13
years. If you did, then read my palm and let
me know what my fortune will be in 20
years, because you have a special gift. I just
think that doesn’t make a difference if you
have name recognition or not.
Is it important to you how you are view-
ed by the public? Is your image important to
Well, sure it is. I’m not going to sit here
and say that I’m so content with having a
bad reputation and a tainted image. You
work tirelessly trying to help people make
better lives for themselves, and you hope
that over time, people see it and that your
image is improved and your reputation is
bettered. It means something, but it’s not
the reason that I do this, because I want
people to like me. There is going to be a
certain part of the population that doesn’t.
There are going to be a number of people
that will never forgive, that will never forget. Regardless of how many ever millions
of people’s lives I help become better,
they’ll be stuck on this one thing and they
won’t really see the big picture. I don’t
What were those years like for you,
between the moment in 2003 when the federal agent asked you about “the clear” and
2007, when you admitted that you had lied?
Carrying around that knowledge?
It was very heavy. It was very heavy. It
was very hard for me to cope. And it got
heavier and heavier until you got to a
point where it’s hard to go on.
The pictures that you include in the
book, there’s a shot of you crossing the finish line in Sydney, and the caption reads,
“The 2000 Olympics — 200-meter victory!” When you think of that moment, do
you still have positive feelings about it, do
you still consider it a victory?
Yes. My memories of Sydney and my
success through those years are very positive. I know that I have been blessed with
talent. I know that I worked hard. And I’ve
even stated in the past that I returned the
medals because I couldn’t say 100 percent
that [the clear] didn’t aid me in some ways.
But even having said that, I have also stated
in the past that I still felt that if I hadn’t
been given anything, I would’ve won. So
that’s why the picture is in the book.
It’s difficult to read some of the harrowing accounts of your time in prison without
contrasting them with what your life was
like before — magazine covers, wealth, millions of fans. Were there times in prison
when you were doing the same thing?
There were certainly moments when I
would ask myself, or I’d tell myself, gosh,
within the span of two years or less how
much my life had changed, from physicali-ties [sic] like where I’m at, to what people
think, to what the future holds. But most
of the time wasn’t spent doing that, because
I developed a certain way with coping
while I was there. And one of those ways
was to reflect on the past and try to figure
out how I came to be where I was, how
you make certain choices. But really, I
learned the best way to cope was to look
forward and to focus on how to get to
It must have been oddly liberating for
you as well. Obviously you were in prison,
and there is nothing free and easy about
that. But to have lost so much of what you
once had? It strips down your thinking.
Yeah. Well, I would say it was more of
a blessing that I had to endure solitude,
that I was forced to be by myself. And