Sam Jones has been on the football team since his freshman year.
LEANDER, Texas — Before each draw, it’s traditional for the Rouse High School Raiders to march under the bleachers, arms locked, helmets on, as they prepare for battle.
The thing is, one of the Raiders has already won the battle for his life.
Sam Jones is the manager of the football team, but he’s not your typical type. Between workouts in the weight room, morning workouts, and summer camps, he’s been with the team every step of the way.
“We were very careful,” said Sam’s mother, Lulu Jones. “We don’t want him to be like that token kid with a disability sitting on the sidelines.
Her son was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth. But that was not the only obstacle.
“Two pounds, two ounces,” Lulu Jones said, describing her son’s birth weight. “Its first layer is as big as our cell phones today.”
As Sam Jones grew, so did the challenges. He was born with holes in his heart, but doctors told his family the holes were just small enough that he didn’t need surgery.
This theory jumped a beat in 2018.
“We went to his annual appointment, and his doctor was like, ‘So he needs surgery,'” Lulu Jones said.
His son needed heart surgery, and he was ready – on one condition.
“He said, ‘I just want a small hole,’ and the doctor said, ‘I’m going to make it as small as possible,'” Lulu Jones said.
“I wanted it to be small,” Sam Jones said when asked about his scar.
“When that doctor came in, he wouldn’t talk,” Lulu Jones said, recalling the moments after her son saw the size of his scar.
Despite his disappointment, Sam Jones didn’t let it dim his light. In fact, he became an inspiration to some of his teammates.
“I see Sam and I see my brother can become someone like Sam and be able to participate in things, just like him.” said senior lineman Travis Bartz.
Bartz’s little brother also has Down syndrome, and seeing Sam included gave him hope for his sibling.
“It’s an ebb and flow with everything. And Down syndrome is the least of our worries,” Lulu Jones said.
His son will continue to be that heartbeat for the Rouse Raiders for years to come – including this Friday for the Raiders’ first round playoff game against Crockett at Bible Stadium.
Cory Mose on social media:Facebook | Twitter
KVUE on social media:Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
Voters in 5 Texas cities choose to decriminalize low-grade marijuana offenses
More than 2 years later, the man most seriously injured in Austin’s social justice protests talks about his recovery
Reservations for a new 3D home community in Georgetown will open in 2023