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Tuesday, 10 May 2016 16:32

Organization seeks to mold boys into Made Men Featured

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Nazair Jones and three of his friends are making a commitment to help young athletes find their way in school and on the field of play.

Today Jones, a football player at the University of North Carolina, along with George Arrington, Chris Caudle and M.J. Stewart, went on a barnstorming tour of Halifax County middle schools to introduce Made Men Mentoring, which seeks to pair underprivileged male youth with NCAA athletes.

The athletes in the program will come from UNC, Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, East Carolina, Winston-Salem State and UNC-Pembroke, Jones, a Roanoke Rapids native, said before speaking at Chaloner Middle School, the first stop on the tour.

(For more information email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or to help fund the non-profit program visit the organization's GoFundMe page)

“I want to see change in the community,” said Jones, a junior, who is on the threshold of deciding whether to enter the NFL draft.

Made Men Mentoring honors the legacy of Mac Booker, who led Jones on his path, and died in February. “It was just the work ethic he had to prepare me for the position I'm in today. He told me to put down the video games. It's all about seeing that motivation that just comes trying to make the NFL.”

Jones never met his father, but his mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, who live in Roanoke Rapids, have all been by his side, rooting and encouraging him in life.

And while they don't understand the ins and outs of football, he said, “They want me to do the right things. They just want to see me do well.”

As far as the NFL draft, Jones said, “It all depends on how the season goes.”

Jones wants young athletes to have the same mentoring opportunities coach Booker gave him. “We want to give them some motivation. Kids will listen to anything a college athlete has to say. We are all made men. We just want them to turn the switch on when they are in class, give it all in class.”

Jones credits his time at KIPP with helping with the book work. “It just led me in the right direction when I transferred to Roanoke Rapids.”

Caudle, of Weldon, is playing football at Winston-Salem State, and is also from a single-parent home. “There's always the peer pressure,” he said. “You have to choose your own path.”

Caudle, who was friends with Jones at KIPP, believes in the program. “It's great coming from our backgrounds. The goal is to help people, and giving back.”

Growing up, “There was a lot of pain and a lot of emotions,” he said. “Football was my outlet.”

Caudle is a junior pursuing a business administration degree, which he believes will open many avenues. He also believes there is a chance for him to play professional football in some form, possibly in the Canadian Football League.

Stewart and Jones are teammates. Stewart grew up in Washington, D.C., as well as Philadelphia. “Ever since I got to school, he's been my friend. He's a brother. He steers me in the right direction,” Stewart said of Jones.

For Stewart, Made Men Mentoring, is a great idea because he has seen the gritty side — “Nine-year-olds carrying guns. This can help change the mindset of kids.”

Arrington, of Roanoke Rapids, wrestles at UNC-Pembroke, and is a rising senior at the school, who is friends with Jones. “We really clicked.”

Arrington comes from a single-parent home and credits Jones as being the one who pushes him. “You've got to have someone to push you. You don't pay attention to the negative.”

Focusing on the positive, Arrington said, pushed him to be the first college wrestler from Roanoke Rapids.

In the school gym, the four talked to a group of boys.

“When it comes to grades, you gotta, gotta have the grades,” Stewart said. “If you're having trouble, look for help, your teachers, moms, dads. That goes all the way through college.”

Arrington explained, “Sports don't get you into school. It starts here. You might not like it, but it's going to get you a lot farther.”

In addition to the school work, Jones told the boys to start doing pushups, “and running around the neighborhood getting stronger … You have to be your own motivator.”

Arrington advised the boys to be prepared. “Things are going to get hard, whether it's in school or athletics … Don't sell yourself short. Be the friend to boost someone up.”

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