Triniti Alexandria Jones, who had her Daddy for life when she yanked out the feeding tube with her tiny hands her first day home from the hospital at three months old, could be seen rampaging through his seventh Bengals training camp the last couple of weeks.
"Trin," which is what the daughter of Pro Bowl cornerback Adam Jones is called by her bustling extended family, made it to virtually every practice. Which is just about right for a baby born so early and dangerously the day before the Bengals broke training camp six years ago.
She spent this summer challenging her little buddies to get in a sprinter's stance or making the grownups laugh with a "Bye Felicia."
She usually spied Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis right after he ended a practice by breaking the huddle and with a hug around his legs let out a "Hi, Coach!" before resuming her appointed rounds. Those often included a hug from Bengals president Mike Brown, who would exclaim, "There is our miracle baby." The girl who weighed 1,019 grams at birth could be seen lugging around almost that much in four Gatorade bottles at a time.
Cincinnati Bengals travel to Detroit, Michigan to take on the Lions in week 2 of the preseason. (8/17/2016)
"Normal?" Adam Jones asks. "She's too normal. She's overactive. Wasn't it (Rory) McIlroy's father that bet on him when he was a kid he'd win something big? I'd do that if we had that over here. I would bet that she's going to be something special and I'm not talking about a doctor or lawyer. I'm talking athletics. She'll win some sort of Gold Medal, I'm telling you."
In this training camp where Adam Jones began to put the finishing touches on his decade-long remarkable comeback from the abyss as he starts his seventh Bengals season, he sees a lot of Adam Jones in the kid that really turned it all around for him. They are never-give-up donors. Her fight helped inspire his career and his passion gave her the fight to save her life.
An independent streak longer than the preseason? Quick emotions? Passionate? Tough?
"She's exactly like me," is how Jones puts it. "God does everything for a reason. Now I have to deal with the stuff my parents, even my coaches (did), as far as quick triggering. She's very quick to respond to anything that happens. She's a daredevil."
If you want to know how much Adam Jones has grown in the last decade, don't use the Pro Bowl as a measuring stick. Simply weigh Trin a few days before her six-year-old checkup.
Call it 46.2 pounds. As dutifully weighed by her mother Tish, the relentless soul who covered Trin's incubator with blankets she and Adam slept in so the baby could feel their presence in the rare moments one of them wasn't there during the first three months she was in the hospital.
That is how much Adam Bernard Jones has grown. 46.2 pounds. When he cut the cord at 8:42 a.m. on Aug. 15, 2010, the morning they played Denver at home, she weighed 1.9 pounds, he thinks, and they took her before he could touch her.
Triniti weighed in at 1,019 grams, but that was just the beginning of the story.
"It really made me, 'Damn, you better get your (bleep) together," Adam Jones says. '"You've got to make sure you take care of this little (baby) after she's been through all this. It was more than me worrying about myself. Now times are hard. Now what do you do?
"My old man used to tell me you always judge a man when his back is in a corner. Everybody is cool when everybody's got something, when you've got money and everything is going good. You judge a person when times get hard. When their backs are against the wall and then you see what he's going to do."
Tish almost didn't want to tell him her water broke. It was such awful news, just 26 weeks into her pregnancy and more than two months from her due date.
And it was the last week of his first training camp with his new team, the 2010 Bengals. After spending two of the previous three years banished from the league for off-field problems, it was viewed as a fresh start and last chance.
Lewis pulled him out of a meeting at Georgetown College and sent him 75 miles up the road to University Hospital, where Tish drove herself after she turned down the ambulance from Christ Hospital. She needed to get five-year-old Zaniyah some food and it seemed like by the time she went through a McDonald's Drive-Thru and got to University and its renowned neonatal unit, Adam had already zoomed up I-75.
"I know his strength. He's our Superman always providing for our family and taking care of us," Tish Jones says. "But I saw how he felt helpless because it was out of our control.
"The way Triniti came the way she did; it just kicked it into overdrive. I must do this for my two girls because they deserve nothing but the best. She's our miracle baby. She's here for a purpose and we must do everything we can to show them they're loved and give them a strong foundation."
Yes, Adam Jones agrees. The birth of Triniti is as good as any point to chart the beginning of the comeback. It's a comeback that secondary coach Kevin Coyle says is "incredible how he's grown as a player and a person."
It was Coyle who saw Jones visibly broken as the family coped with the devastating news. When Tish awoke the day after the birth, Coyle's face "with his beautiful spirit," was the first she saw.
Coyle should know. He left the Bengals after Jones' first two seasons to become the defensive coordinator in Miami. When he returned this season, he bumped into Tish in a restaurant and they still had the bond from that morning Coyle told her he'd do whatever he could and, "Don't worry, I've got Pac."
"I think he's so appreciative the way things have turned out from a family standpoint," Coyle says. "Triniti and Zaniyah and Tish are the best things that ever happened to Adam Jones and he's trying to be the best father and best husband he can be.
"He's a joy to coach," says Coyle, who, still has verbal wrestling matches with the volatile one. "There have been growing pains. I think we've grown to appreciate each other. I have great respect for him. This training camp is the best football I've ever seen him play. Consistent every day. Leads by example. He still has rough edges, but he wants to be the best. He has great respect of everyone in the locker room. He's earned it through his work ethic, toughness, diligence on knowing the defense. He gets on the young guys in the meetings. He's a guy that's really matured."
Former Bengal Andre Smith got a chance to visit with Triniti and Tish again last week at camp when the Vikes visited.
The news didn't get better after the birth. Dr. Evelyn Jones, Triniti's pediatrician, says that her patient had been lined up for problems down the road. Not only had Tish battled an infection of her amniotic fluid, but Triniti emerged with a Grade 3-4 bleeding on the brain. More devastation.
"He had to hold me up when we heard that," Tish says.
While Tish stayed for all visiting hours, Adam tried to spend at least an hour a day bouncing in between his schedule.
"I think we could finally touch her after a month, but you had to put on something that looked like gloves," Jones says. "My whole thing was, why does she have to go through this? We were the ones that decided to do this. That's what was killing me mentally."
Dr. Jones says babies younger than 32 weeks who suffer bleeding on the brain have about a 47 to 50 percent of having an issue down the road, such as cerebral palsy, learning disorders, and hearing or vision problems.
Put that on to top of the numbers for 27 weekers, which is 92 percent survive but most have two to three deficits, and Dr. Jones is continually amazed at how Triniti's development has progressed so normally. She's due to see her for her annual checkup next week and she expects "The Miracle," to continue.
"She hasn't survived, she's thrived," Dr. Jones says. "It takes a team to take care of a baby that sick early on.
"You have to look at all the things he does with her at home. Read to her, sing to her. Talk to her. All of the family thing. It's done by everyone. When you look at her chart after she got out of the hospital, every time she went to get checked she exceeded the expectations. That means her parents did what they needed.
"They took home a baby and the parents had to be caregivers, therapists, occupational therapists. Those are stresses for most families. The leading cause for families to be broken up is a sick child. Their family didn't break up. It got stronger."
But not before the obstacles became almost unfathomable. The Bengals were set to play in the Jones' hometown of Atlanta on Oct. 24, about three weeks before Triniti would go home. Tish balked at a baby shower, but Adam convinced her to go. There was nothing she could do in Cincinnati and the baby was in good hands. Then the family would go to the game the next day and ….
"He hurt his neck," Tish says of the season-ending injury. "It tests your faith. You have to make a decision. What's more important? Sit here and cry or am I going to breathe life into my baby and pray over her and love over her and let her feel my strength?"
Adam Jones admits he was in a dark place in his life. There were whispers his career was over. He remembers Tish telling him that God didn't take him this far to end the story.
His position coach says Jones (24) is playing his best football ever.
"The only people that stuck with me were upstairs and the coaches," Jones says of the front office, led by Brown. "Mr. Brown has been one of the best supports I had in my life. He never gave up on me. Just a genuine guy. I think Mr. Brown really knows my heart and knows me as a person."
Adam Jones had no time to grieve, either. There was Triniti Alexandria trying to get out of the hospital. He went from his stay at Christ Hospital after his neck surgery back to the incubator.
"Even in the neck brace," Tish says, "they couldn't believe he was going to practice, going to meetings, supporting the team. Even the doctors at the hospital, they couldn't believe his strength he had for us and what he was walking with."
Now, no one can quite believe that training camp kid of six years ago. The girl that Jones held in the palm of his hand now has her favorite cartoon characters from a collection her father has lovingly drawn for her. Her pediatrician can't wait for that visit from a six-year-old.
"She's a very talkative girl and she likes to dress up," says Dr. Jones. "She's always dressed to the nines. Cracks me up."
Six years ago he would leave the stadium every day to go back to a sick room. Now Adam Jones talks about what he sees in his basement, where he keeps a balance beam.
"She can do a back walk over, but the craziest thing I've ever seen her do is a cart wheel on the beam. I can't even do that," Jones says. "She can do it with ease. She's going to the 2024 Olympics. I'm betting money on it."
While they were watching the gymnasts compete the other night at the Olympics, Trin went upstairs at a commercial and came back down in what Jones can only call "her full suit."
Now his cackle can be heard around the locker room.
"She says, 'I'm going to go down here and practice for a little bit,'" Jones says.
Like Coyle says, "The apple doesn't fall from the tree."
But they both started growing about the same time.