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Actor Robbie Jones Tells MF How Basketball Changed His Life

Robbie Jones has spent his life honing his talents. Now, with a breakout role—and success—in his grasp, he takes us back to the sport that started it all.
Scott Morgan

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“I dunked on [Boston Celtics forward] Paul Pierce,” says Robbie Jones, star of the new film Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor. “He didn’t like that too much—he was like, ‘Man, he’s going to tell his kids about that one day.’”

Possible, but unlikely. Jones has been squaring off against some of the best in the sport since his days as a guard at UC Berkeley. A walk-on in his freshman year, he was able to earn a scholarship, eventually getting 10 starts as a sophomore.

“I was hoping to get to the NBA, but the Lord took me on a different path,” Jones says.

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That path led to the American Basketball Association (ABA), one of a handful of minor leagues trying to carve out a slice of the NBA-dominated basketball market. “I played two seasons for this team called the Las Vegas Slam,” he says. “After that, I played in France, Argentina, and Mexico. I did the overseas thing for about five years.”

Despite all that, Jones says the best ball he ever played was in loosely organized pickup games at UCLA.

An ABA teammate invited Jones to “come out to UCLA and play with him in the summertime,” he recalls. “But he told me, ‘You’ve got to bring it or I can’t vouch for you.’ I did my thing, and from then on, everyone knew me. It was a nice privilege.”

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He’s being modest. There, Jones had the chance to hoop with a slew of NBA stars, including Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant—who, between them, have won six NBA championships and played in nine NBA finals.

Jones eventually switched to acting, so these days his free time is based around his filming schedule—but he still hits the court when he can. “I play competitive ball wherever I can find it,” he says. He credits much of his acting career (including roles in such TV series as Hellcats and One Tree Hill) to the game that gave him so much as he was growing up.

“For me, basketball kind of mirrors life,” Jones says. “It sounds deep, but the sport has transformed my personality and my daily coping mechanisms. It has meant a lot.”

RAPID FIRE
Quick questions, quick answers

● Man: Dependable

● Life: Health

● Acting: Love

● Temptation: Evil

● Fear: Weakness

● Kobe: Fierce

● Professional: Me

● Hard work: Determination

● Paul Pierce: Beast

● Los Angeles: Home

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