Cullman High School
K.J. Jones is an outstanding young man. His athletic abilities earned him a starting position on his football team’s defensive line. Both on and off the field, K.J. leads by example—sharing his life experiences with other students, encouraging his peers to be their best, and taking responsibility for the well-being of all those around him.
Knowing the story of K.J.’s life, his nominator, Cullman High assistant principal Kim Hall, wrote, “When I ask how he became such a great kid, K.J. credits his faith in God and his desire to make something of himself. He said, ‘I just asked God to help me and then I set out to model myself after the people who were successful in life.”
K.J.’s route to Cullman was circuitous, to say the least. K.J. was born in Birmingham and lived with his biological mother and the man he believed to be his father until he was five years old. He lived the next six years with his mother and grandmother. At the age of 11, tragedy struck, and K.J.’s mother died suddenly from to a heart attack.
K.J. was shuffled from home to home without a permanent residence. He eventually moved in with his presumed father. At the age of 13, a paternity test was conducted, and K.J. learned that the man he believed to be his biological father was not. The man he thought his father for so many years took K.J. to the Department of Human Resources and relinquished custody of him at the age of 15. K.J. was moved to various homes in the DHR system. Eventually, he was transferred to Childhaven in Cullman, and he is now happily settled with a new family—the Glenns.
K.J.’s life began to change. He started summer workouts with the Cullman football team. K.J.’s inspiring personality was embraced by families in the Cullman community—affording him numerous opportunities on campus. Assistant football coach and history teacher Aaron Sparks said of him, “K.J. is one of the most humble, well-mannered young men I ever had the pleasure of knowing.”
K.J. volunteers in the front office of Cullman High School, honing his office and public relations skills. An active member of Cullman Church of Christ, he worked tirelessly with his church in local relief efforts after last year’s devastating tornadoes. This summer, he plans to travel with his church on a mission trip to Honduras.
English teacher Danna Putman summed up K.J.’s story: “He simply leads by example and gives God the glory in his life. There is not one bitter seed in this young man. He has a quick smile and the heart of a hero, for he has chosen to face adversity with courage and tenacity I have rarely witnessed.”