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Memphis Athletic Ministries (MAM) has been a beacon of hope and opportunity for countless youth in Memphis over the last 25 years. Among the many success stories that have emerged from the organization, one stands out—Jamalo Jones, a student whose life was profoundly impacted by MAM and who, in turn, has become a dedicated coach, paying it forward to the next generation. 

Born and raised in Memphis, Jamalo moved into the Parkway Village neighborhood in seventh grade. It was during his eighth-grade year that he first heard about MAM from friends in the neighborhood. The moment he stepped foot in MAM Olivet, he felt an instant connection. The coaches welcomed him with open arms, creating an environment filled with love, mentorship, and endless possibilities.

As a student, Jamalo eagerly engaged in various MAM programs. He participated in sports, particularly basketball, where he learned that winning isn’t everything; it was the attitude on and off the court that truly mattered. Bible study played a crucial role in his spiritual growth, helping him develop a deeper understanding of faith. Additionally, he actively participated in a former program called Operation Hope, where he gained valuable life skills. These programs equipped him with the tools necessary for personal and professional success.

Through his involvement with MAM, Jamalo learned invaluable life lessons. He discovered that the company he kept in his youth wasn’t conducive to positive growth and recognized that, as an adult, he had the power to shape his own destiny. MAM provided a lifeline, saving him from a path that could have led to jail or worse. Amid personal struggles and a father who was incarcerated throughout his school years, Jamalo’s MAM coaches stepped in as father figures, offering guidance, support, and a sense of belonging. The impact of Jeff Trotter was particularly profound. Jeff mentored him, extended his support by inviting him into his home during difficult times, and continues to guide him into adulthood with regular meetings and Bible study sessions. These mentors became his inspiration, shaping his desire to work at MAM after completing his education.

Jamalo, pictured center, mentors high school youth at MAM Olivet.

After experiencing setbacks in his plans to join the Navy due to a shoulder injury, Jamalo returned to Memphis and heeded the call of Kenyatta Morris, a long-time employee of MAM, to work with the organization. Since becoming a coach in 2018, his favorite part about working at MAM has been witnessing the smiles on the children’s faces, knowing he can make a positive impact in their lives.

MAM’s work extends far beyond the walls of its facilities. By providing a safe haven for children, particularly those who come from challenging backgrounds, MAM fills a significant gap in the community. It offers a place where children can feel secure, nurtured, and loved, while simultaneously instilling values, skills, and hope for a brighter future. The impact of MAM’s work can be seen in the journeys of students turned coaches, like Jamalo. Through his involvement with MAM, he has not only overcome personal challenges but also acquired a newfound sense of purpose and commitment to helping others. His vision for the future includes working with kids, building relationships, and making a positive difference—one life at a time. He firmly believes that if he can reach one child, he is doing God’s work, knowing that child will go on to inspire others.

Memphis Athletic Ministries has been instrumental in shaping the lives of countless young people, offering hope, mentorship, and opportunities they may not have otherwise had. This story of a student turned coach exemplifies the profound impact MAM can have on an individual’s life trajectory. Through the support and guidance received from MAM, Jamalo has not only transformed his own life but also become an instrument of change, helping shape a better Memphis for future generations.

As Kenyatta expressed, seeing former MAM students now working alongside her, putting into practice the skills they learned through MAM programs, is an indescribable feeling. It is a testament to the lasting impact of MAM’s work, providing a full-circle experience where young individuals, having been nurtured by the organization, come back to inspire and mentor the next generation.

MAM’s work is a shining example of how investing in youth can create a brighter and more promising future for communities. The organization’s commitment to providing love, support, and guidance has not only transformed individual lives but also contributed to making a better Memphis—one child at a time.

Join us in celebrating the 25th anniversary of Memphis Athletic Ministries by becoming a monthly donor, or a MAM MVP. For just $25 a month, you can help us continue to provide a safe and nurturing environment for youth to experience Gospel-centered sports and afterschool programming. Your monthly donation will make a significant impact on our ministry, allowing us to provide even more opportunities to coach, grow, and lead the youth of Memphis. Click the image above to give $25 for 25.

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