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Marion Jones: Reflections on a second chance as we "Press Pause" with 30 for 30

Marion Jones photo courtesy <a href="" target="new">Craig Bennett/112575 Media</a>
Marion Jones photo courtesy Craig Bennett/112575 Media

Second chances, do you believe in them?

The current way the world revolves, this subject can be a slippery slope when broached. Some people dole out seconds, thirds, fourths with not much thought put into it, while others have become too jaded to give anyone an opportunity for explanation, much less a second chance.

For Marion Jones, who is featured in tonight's 30 for 30 documentary on ESPN, "Press Pause", a second chance at a fruitful life has been a saving grace. But her second chance is also a polarizing topic for so many that followed her track career, her fall from the top and now her newfound opportunity to play professional basketball in the WNBA.

"I am the biggest proponent in second chances as long as you use the second chance to contribute to society in a positive way," said Jones. "Don't drain society, don't continue the mistakes. Admit it, deal with it, how can you turn it around.

"That's been my big thing through everything; how can I make the wrong a right. I know I disappointed folks, I know I've hurt people. I hurt family, my closest friends. How can I turn it around."


Like her or not, Jones has been 'turning it around' with not just basketball, fame and fortune. The just-off-probation Jones is using actions - programs like her "Take a Break" message that she speaks about in schools, and her desire to become more involved with reforming the prison system that she spent six months of her life as a member of.

The fame and fortune might be hard to come by anyway, with a contract of $35,888 in her rookie season and limited playing time for the Tulsa Shock, the mother of three and convicted felon isn't going to get herself a mansion and Maserati any time soon.

Maybe not riches, but she's working toward at least a semblance of redemption.

"I certainly am the biggest proponent of second chances, no doubt," Jones said, "and I can't say that before I had been through all of my ups and downs that I would have necessarily been one. You get to that point where you say, you know what, they knew better, they're educated, they can't say that they didn't know. They knew, so no, they don't deserve a second chance."

Did Jones know better? Her crime, and her punishment, was for telling a lie. Do other high profile athletes and celebrities that our culture still embraces know better? And are they working to right their wrongs after the second chance is given?

No one seems to remember Alex Rodriguez and his steroid admission. People are beginning to forget Mike Vick's time in the penitentiary. And what about the Hollywood starlets and heartthrobs that have been on the wrong side of poor decision-making, but are still invited into your home to entertain you and your children?

Or maybe it's just the next door neighbor, best friend, family member that has wronged you. Do they deserve the second chance you're giving them?

Take a moment and step into their shoes, see what they see and how they are reacting to their actions.

"Until you've been through something and you say to yourself gosh, dumb, and then you say man I wish somebody would give me a second chance because I would make it right. I would make better decisions, I would reach out and help people make better decisions."

It's not just the second chance, it's what you do with it. And for Jones, what she's doing is telling her story - all of her story - candidly. So take a minute to "Press Pause", as Jones wished she would have done. Stop and reflect on not only what Jones did do, but what she is doing before you pass your judgments.