Seventeen-year-old Ava Jones is a profile in courage. The high school basketball standout and Iowa recruit from Nickerson, Kansas has been in the process of intense recovery after suffering an unspeakable tragedy back in July. While on a trip to Louisville, Kentucky for a basketball tournament, Ava, her parents, and her younger brother were walking along the sidewalk when a car jumped the curb and hit them. It later turned out that the driver was impaired from taking hydrocodone before getting behind the wheel.
Ava’s father, Trey, was killed, her mother, Amy, suffered serious injuries, and her brother, Creek, suffered minor injuries. Ava suffered a traumatic brain injury, torn ligaments in both knees and a shoulder injury. Both she and her mother spent months recovering at the Frazier Rehabilitation Institute in Louisville before returning home to Nickerson in late August.
After undergoing multiple surgeries, Ava was able to walk again and regain her speech. She has been recovering better than most had expected. She is still in need of surgery on her knees and shoulder. Many had expected that her basketball career would be over. But throughout it all, Ava has been determined to find her way back onto the court.
On National Signing Day, which was Nov. 9, Ava signed a letter of intent with Iowa. Surrounded by her mother, brother, friends and other supporters, she made her declaration official and proved once more that her inspiring journey continues. Before the tragedy, Ava was ranked 84th by ESPN Hoop Gurlz for the Class of 2023. Originally, she committed to Arizona State, but the retirement of Sun Devil head coach Charli Turner Thorne caused her to explore other options. Two days before the accident, she committed to Iowa.
The Hawkeyes have gone above and beyond to support Ava and her family. Head coach Lisa Bluder has made it a point to regularly keep in contact with them and make it clear that Ava’s future is still bright in Iowa City.
“The Jones family continues to inspire with their incredible fortitude and resolve,” she said. “Both Ava and her mother, Amy, are continuing with various therapy sessions and both will undergo more surgeries as they continue their healing journey. Throughout the past few months, we have obviously become so close to their entire family. We are proud and thankful that Ava is a Hawkeye and her family is also grateful for our support.”
Bluder also spoke of what approach she and the team will take to ensure that Ava is welcomed and protected when she gets to Iowa.
“We will support her through all of the surgeries and through her continued therapy sessions. Our approach will be to support all doctors and therapists working with her. As she improves and limitations are lifted, we will then begin appropriate training and re-introduction to basketball skill work.”
Thursday night, the No. 4 Hawkeyes are set to take on Kansas State in Manhattan, which is about two hours away from Nickerson. Ava and her family plan to be in attendance.
After signing her letter of intent, Ava said, “I feel like my dad was with me today.” Ava is as resilient as they come and with the memory of her father strong and the unconditional support from her loved ones, whatever comes her way, she won’t have to face it alone.