Save the sass, sarcasm and snickering. It’s not news to Mister Jones. That’s right, the Casa Grande freshman’s birth certificate reads: Mister Quincy Jones.
He’s heard all the one-liners, giggles and questions before. And, no, it wasn’t some hair-brained scheme by his family, begging people to make jokes.
Tasha Jones was 17 years old when she gave birth to Mister in Denver. He’s never met his father; mom was too caught up chasing drugs and men.
His life became a pinball of relocation. He bounced around from state to state, even spent a little time with his mother in a New Mexico homeless shelter after Tasha left an abusive relationship.
“She had an epiphany and wanted to give him a name that would demand respect and he’d carry and hold proud,” Mister’s uncle, Ralph Jones said. “She always wanted that Mister in her life, a sense of strength.”
With help from Grandma Catherine and Uncle Ralph, Mister moved to Coolidge to live with his uncle two years ago. Ralph is a health teacher at Casa Grande and track coach at Central Arizona College.
Ever since, he’s lived up to his anointment as “Mister.”
It’s strength through silence. He’d moved so often that by the time his peers were in third grade, he was still learning at a kindergarten level. When family life turned sour, he’d clam up and give everyone the silent treatment.
“I didn’t like myself because people always made fun of my name,” Mister said. “I wanted to (change the name). My grandma wouldn’t let me.”
Words are still hard to come by with Mister. Most questions end with “Yes, sir,” or “No, sir.”
The oldest of five kids, he remains close to his mother and four siblings back in Denver.
He shot up from 5-foot-7 to 6-foot-3 in three months last summer, and Cougars coach Tracy Stuart looked at the 180-pounder and decided varsity was the only level to benefit the running back.
As a backup to Harnish Ayora, Mister has three 100-yard games this season. He’s also a favorite at the Stuart house each week when the team’s offense eats dinner there.
“My wife thinks he’s fantastic,” Stuart said. “In this biz you’re dealing with kids (and) you’re going to get different names all the time. Makes things interesting.”
There is no way around the obvious. When Stuart asks school officials what class Mister Jones is in, they reply with, “What class does he teach?”
Forget about what’s in a name. Better to learn what’s behind the name.
“He was her man in life and he’d grow up and conduct himself as one and get respect,” Ralph said. “The name really holds a lot of weight.”