College track standout Vanessa Jones ended her career at USC last year with an Olympic dream and little means of making it happen. Luckily, her older brother, Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones, was there to give Vanessa the confidence and funds to make her dream a reality.
Last July, Vanessa called Marvin looking for advice. She had the talent to pursue a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, but didn’t have the sponsors to fund the training she would need to make it there, ESPN reports. Marvin shocked his sister by offering to foot the bill for all of her training and living expenses as she prepared for the July trials for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“I didn’t think twice about it,” Marvin, 26 told ESPN, adding that he had been planning on making the offer before he even spoke with his sister.
With help from her brother, Vanessa secured a spot at the elite training facility Altis. The father of three is paying for his sister’s training costs, living expenses and travel to meets. The total cost is in the thousands, but the NFL star just received an $8 million signing bonus as part of a 5-year, $40 million contract with the Detroit Lions, according to Spotrac.
“It motivated me even more,” Vanessa said of her brother’s offer. “I was thankful and blessed to have a brother that believes in me as much as I do in myself. It’s amazing.”
Vanessa’s coach at Altis said he thinks she could have the chance to represent the U.S. either in the 400 meters or the 4×400 relay. Her brother agrees.
“She needed to be somewhere where she could be with the professionals and be around them to see, ‘Hey, I belong here, too. I can progress enough to make this push to Rio,’ ” Marvin said. “That was an important thing to me, not only that she is my baby sister, but she is somebody that can actually go out there and compete, you know?”
If Vanessa does make it to Rio, the entire Jones family will show up to support her – except for Marvin, who will likely be at training camp during the games in August. Whether or not Marvin can attend the actual games, Vanessa will know her brother is, and always has been, rooting for her.