That’s one of the many valuable lessons that Jim “Basketball” Jones shared with Maplehurst Elementary students during his high-energy assembly Wednesday.
Jones, of Avon Lake, broke up his life lessons into shorter phrases that the students energetically repeated — complete with hand motions.
“Let’s take time to practice kindness,” he said.
Jones, who does an average of 400 programs each year, had the students say something nice to their neighbor. But it couldn’t be about what they were wearing.
The veteran basketball-handler showed off his impressive skills to the delight of the students. He spun a ball on Sharpie markers the youngsters held and juggled them.
Jones had a basketball spin on the nose of first-grader Kai Perez, who is in Michelle Salisbury’s class.
“I’ve been spinning basketballs for 40 years,” Jones said after the assembly. “I was doing shows for the Cavs when I was in 10th, 11th and 12th grade. My freshman year (of college) I did my last one.”
First-grader Kyleigh Austin wore a pair of “safety glasses,” which were actually oversized glasses. Jones draped a towel over her shoulder — in case he said he might spill the Gatorade he was going pour into a glass.
With Stacey Opper’s student’s mouth open and her head slightly back, Jones spun a basketball on the rim of the glass while he gently poured the drink into the girl’s mouth.
Even straightening up after one of his tricks was a life lesson. Jones folded the towel, telling the students to “be responsible and take care of your own stuff.”
Principal Ken Moore raved about Jones’ presentations before the assembly started.
“He’s one of the greatest basketball heroes I’ve seen,” Moore told the students. “He has some great stories to tell too.”
Jones told the children they should learn to be “patient listeners” and speak only after carefully listening to what someone tells them. He also taught them that mistakes are a sign of effort and is a part of learning.
“You’re not born smart; you get smart,” Jones said, “over time with practice.”
Find Jim “Basketball” Jones on Facebook. His website is jimbasketballjones.com.