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Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Ricky Seals-Jones: Name behind the game

By Sam Khan Jr.

SEALY, Texas -- Before there was Ricky Seals-Jones, there was Ricky Seals.

The pair had much in common. Both were beloved football stars for Sealy (Texas) High School. Their hometown adored them. Their talents as teenagers made it easy to forecast a bright future for each.

Ricky Seals-Jones
Highly ranked receiver Ricky Seals-Jones got his name from his late uncle.
Ricky Seals-Jones, the four-star receiver who is committed to Texas A&M, never met Ricky Seals, his late uncle and former Sealy running back. He never had the chance. But the "Seals-Jones" on the back of his jersey is something Ricky has great pride in.

"It means a lot," Seals-Jones said. "A lot of people knew him and so a lot of people say watching me reminds them of him. So that means a lot to me."

Buffy Seals-Jones, Ricky Seals-Jones' mother, loved her younger brother. The two were 13 years apart, so often people would confuse Buffy as Ricky Seals' mother instead of his sister. She watched after him with a mother's instinct.

"I was like his momma," Buffy said. "Whatever he wanted that mom couldn't do, I would step in."

She remembers well Ricky Seals' feats on the football field and on the track. She said some even compared him former Sealy legend Eric Dickerson. Then, on April 29, 1990, at 17 years old, Ricky Seals died in a car accident while on his way home to Sealy driving on Texas Highway 36.

Chester Jones, Buffy's husband and Ricky Seals-Jones' father, remembers the night well.

"We went looking for him because her mom had called her," Chester Jones said. "We didn't have no idea that it happened. When we got there, they were pulling his body out of the truck. Buffy jumped out of the truck. I was driving about 30 [miles per hour] and she jumped out of the truck."

Understandably, Buffy and the rest of her family were devastated.

When her son Ricky was born in 1995, she thought it would be good to give him her late brother's name: Roderick Loren Seals. The name Jones, of course, comes from his father. And like her brother, she would call her son by the nickname "Ricky." And so came into the world Ricky Seals-Jones.

"I just felt it was appropriate and named him as that," she said.

Neither she nor Chester had any idea that young Ricky was headed for football stardom like his late uncle. A photo of Ricky Seals hangs in the Sealy High School field house. Seals-Jones is the nation's eighth-ranked receiver and the gem of Texas A&M's football recruiting class. After his recent official visit to College Station, Texas, Seals-Jones, who is No. 61 in the ESPN 150, is as solid as they come and will sign with the Aggies on Feb. 6.

"Nobody would have ever thought this," Chester said. "His uncle was an extremely good player. We gave him that name not even thinking that because he was a baby. Buffy always said 'God is good.' And [his uncle] Ricky is looking down on him smiling at him."

Ricky Seals-Jones said that he carries the name with great pride, knowing his uncle's history. Buffy and her mother Bobbie Seals would share memories of him with Ricky when he was a young boy.

"My grandma had a video so I could watch him," Ricky said. "Every chance that me and my mom would be alone, I would ask about him and she would tell me stories. Sometimes it would be tears of joy or sometimes crying from hurt, thinking about what happened from that night."

Buffy said she sees a lot of her late brother in her son Ricky now.

"My brother was humble, down to earth, very loving," she said. "He loved little kids. Anybody's little kid, he would take them and play with them or go to games with them. So for Ricky to have his name, it's just an honor. And the way Ricky is carrying himself now, it's almost as if he's following in [his uncle's] footsteps. Ricky's very humble, he doesn't brag. He's just a down to earth kid who loves to have fun."