Across the RedHawks program, Ja’don is understood for his lengthy, two-tone locks which have been crimson, purple or blue at instances, however now are half blonde and half black.
He first made his title as a freshman when, together with forcing a fumble within the Northern Illinois sport, he intercepted a Huskies’ move and returned it 28 yards for the successful landing.
Miami College soccer participant Jadon Rucker-Furlow. CONTRIBUTED
Final yr, he rallied his RedHawks’ teammates and coaches and introduced them again to the Dayton space to assist folks cleanup after a number of Memorial Day tornadoes devastated the realm.
However over the previous 10 weeks, as he’s labored exhausting to win a beginning cornerback job, he’s additionally been coping with an inconceivable loss that has shaken him to the core.
His dad, Shadon Furlow – as soon as a star basketball participant at Springfield South Excessive College and Sinclair Group School – died Aug. 7 in what Cincinnati police decided was a murder-suicide.
Furlow shot and killed 37-year-old TaShaunna Hammond at a Maryland Avenue house within the East Worth Hill part of Cincinnati, police stated.
A lab technician at College of Cincinnati Well being and the mom of 4, Hammond had graduated from Springfield North. Her funeral companies had been held in Springfield and he or she was buried in Urbana. A GoFundMe page was set as much as assist a few of her youthful kids who stay in Springfield.
After he shot Hammond, the 41-year-old Furlow then shot himself and died later on the hospital, in line with police.
Though Dawnnita raised her oldest son on her personal within the West Carrollton space after which in East Dayton, Shadon – who had handled emotional points a lot of his life – was out and in of the image, Ja’don stated.
Simply as his 6-foot-5 dad had been a celebrated athlete right here – “a freak of nature” Ja’don stated – his mother had been a prep standout, as effectively. Dawnnita performed basketball and softball, ran monitor and was a cheerleader at Jefferson.
“I heard there have been nights she dropped 30,” Ja’don stated of his mother’s hoops heroics.
“However I all the time wished my mother and father to see that I might do crazier issues in sports activities than they did. They set the bar for me, however I feel I went over it.”
However whereas Ja’don obtained a Division I scholarship, there was one thing else he missed out on.
“I wished my dad to be pleased with me,” he stated. “I wished him to return see me play.”
That hardly ever occurred stated Dawnnita, who married Torance Hicks II two years in the past and has two youthful sons, Romeo, a junior, multi-sports athlete at Wayne Excessive, and 10-year-old London.
“When Ja’don was a junior in highschool, that ought to have been a standout yr for him in each sport and it was not,” Dawnnita stated. “He had a horrible yr. He was lacking his dad then. His dad would inform him he was coming to video games and he’d by no means present up. It took a psychological toll on Ja’don.”
Ja’don Rucker-Furlow with brother Romeo (No. 47) who performs at Wayne and 10-year-olf brother London. CONTRIBUTED
Shadon, who had been dwelling in Cincinnati for a number of years, did make one Miami sport, however this season was imagined to be totally different, Ja’don stated in tender voice all of a sudden washed by emotion:
“He purchased a season ticket and stated he was going to be in any respect the video games.”
When Miami coaches obtained phrase of the lethal incident in Cincinnati they referred to as Dawnnita “nearly instantly” she stated:
“You understand how, when one thing dangerous occurs, folks all the time yell you they’ll be there? They are saying in the event you want one thing to allow them to know, however normally they’re simply saying that to be sort.
“However that wasn’t the case with the Miami coaches. They had been all in.”
She was particularly appreciative of head coach Chuck Martin and John Hauser, the co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach, who was an All-American participant at Wittenberg after which a coach there.
“Coach Hauser went to choose Ja’don up and introduced him to his house and had him spend the day,” she stated. “He even gave him to the code to his storage door so Ja’don can get in any time he must get away.
“And when Ja’don needed to go to Cincinnati and examine the physique and maintain enterprise, each coaches confirmed as much as be with him.
“I can’t say sufficient about these two and actually all people at Miami. They’ve been fabulous.”
Whereas he leans on the coaches and a few of his teammates, Ja’don stated it’s nonetheless been tough:
“I am going to grief counseling and speak to a physician and I speak to my mother. I’m attempting to remain optimistic, particularly round my group. If I’m down, folks will feed off that power and that’s not good for anybody. However that’s not all the time simple to do.”
Dad’s household cycle
Again in December of 1998 – when he was beginning his school profession at Sinclair – I interviewed Shadon and his mom, Michelle, who died not lengthy after that. She advised me of her personal overwhelming struggles and the way it affected her youngsters, who ended up in rooming homes, shelters and foster houses all throughout the USA.
“I bear in mind (Shadon) spent his sixth birthday on the Greyhound bus to California and he simply saved cryin’ and cryin’,” Michelle stated. “He and his little brother had simply obtained adjusted to a different place and right here I used to be snatching them up once more. Again then, I used to be happening nothing however a wing and a prayer.
“I didn’t know nothin’ ’bout California. We ended up in downtown Los Angeles. Ended up in a run-down lodge on Skid Row. Individuals dwelling on the road exterior, violence in all places. That was no place to be, so we frolicked within the Salvation Military shelter, then an house in Lengthy Seashore, then East Compton, then one other shelter in Venice Seashore.
“Shadon was just a bit boy and he was confused and scared. Even that younger, a child senses when a mum or dad has issues. I had had him once I was simply 16 and fairly quickly after that I simply had issues on prime of issues. Fairly quickly I used to be simply operating from city to city.”
Ja’don Rucker-Furlow with dad Shadon Furlow, as soon as a star athlete at Springfield South and Sinclair Group School. CONTRIBUTED
By the point he was 10, Shadon had lived in Dayton, Louisville, Cincinnati, again in Dayton, Cincinnati once more, then Los Angeles, Lengthy Seashore and San Bernadino, and at last Dayton, Columbus, and Dayton once more.
“I had emotional troubles after which a breakdown and that’s when my youngsters actually wanted assist,” Michelle stated.
Shadon ended up within the custody of Youngsters Providers and for the subsequent seven years, he was shuttled from foster houses to group houses, principally within the Springfield space.
The one place he shined was on the basketball courtroom. As a Springfield South senior, he averaged 17.5 rebounds and 17.four factors a sport and was named the Western Ohio League Participant of the 12 months.
His tutorial document scuttled his D-I probabilities, so he went to Sinclair, the place he felt a connection coach Paul Bryant, who additionally ran a bunch house for troubled teenagers in West Dayton.
After starring at Jefferson, Dawnnita got here to Sinclair and stated she quickly requested Bryant to mentor her so she might develop into “the primary woman to educate a males’s group.”
As it could prove, she’d later be employed to educate the freshman basketball group at Belmont and he or she was a volunteer assistant with the varsity soccer group there, too.
It was whereas she was helping at Sinclair that she met Shadon and finally she grew to become pregnant.
I bear in mind Michelle telling me how her mom had had emotional issues too, however she hoped Shadon – particularly together with his success at Sinclair – would lastly be the one to interrupt the household cycle.
“However then his mother died and he needed to maintain all his brothers and sisters and I feel that began all of it once more,” Dawnnita stated.
Though she’s fortunately remarried now, is elevating her two youngest sons and has begun a enterprise — three Kings Catering – Dawnnita stated Shadon’s suicide and the homicide that preceded it have been “a serious blow that continues to harm.
“I’ve cried and felt so down, wishing I might have accomplished issues otherwise so this didn’t occur. However on the similar time I do know you possibly can’t change some folks to make them need to be greater than they’re.”
‘My mother did every part for me’
She’s accomplished a superb job elevating Ja’don and his two brothers.
“Man, my mother did every part for me,” Ja’don stated. “She made certain I obtained to practices when there wasn’t a option to get there. She made certain we ate. We had some robust instances, however she saved a smile on her face so we didn’t know something was fallacious.
“She confirmed me life abilities and made certain I knew I needed to maintain my brothers. She helped me develop into a profitable younger man.”
Ja’don Rucker-Furlow. CONTRIBUTED
A few of his largest successes got here at Belmont taking part in basketball and soccer, the place he received All State honors as a senior.
Recruited by a number of faculties, particularly Toledo and Cincinnati, he selected Miami due to a “household really feel.”
Simply an hour from Dayton, it has enabled his mother to be at each sport at Yager Stadium,
In flip, Ja’don has not forgotten is hometown.
After he graduates he stated he’d wish to open a youth middle in Dayton to “mentor youngsters who don’t have a father. I do know what that appears like.
“I determine the most effective factor you possibly can provide anyone is a serving to hand. Whenever you attain out, it brings some hope, some pleasure again into that life. When individuals are hurting, it’s necessary for them to know somebody is there for them.”
He was speaking about others.
He was speaking about himself.