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Coach Harold Jones

Inspiration for the Movie \"Radio\" and Former Football Coach.

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Sometimes small choices--to be attentive instead of indifferent, inclusive instead of exclusive--make all the difference. For famed, Southern high school football coach Harold Jones, choosing to embrace a developmentally challenged African American boy named James Radio Kennedy was truly a life-changing moment. His selflessness at the time and ultimate role as Radio's mentor has now been immortalized, first in a classic Sports Illustrated story and later in the acclaimed film starring Ed Harris as Coach Jones and Cuba Gooding Jr. as Radio (Sony Pictures). At the podium, Coach Jones inspires others to become leaders in their community, urging understanding and tolerance as he recounts his empowering life story.

James Robert Kennedy--nicknamed Radio because of his vintage radio collection and his love of music--was an oddity in small town Anderson, South Carolina. Clearly developmentally challenged, Radio pushed a shopping cart around all day, was assumed mute and often was cruelly teased by other kids. But he caught the attention of popular T.L. Hanna High School football coach Harold Jones, who decided to befriend Radio. What began as an uneasy relationship blossomed as Coach Jones earned Radios trust, whom he enlisted to help out at football practice and during games and allowed to sit in on his classes at school, despite the initial misgivings of the school principal and many of the Coach's own friends. Radio, in return, truly enriched the Coach's life by teaching him the valuable lesson that friendship and family ties are as important as any job. Ultimately the Coach had to make hard decisions, as members of the community attempted to have Radio barred from the classroom and, after Radios mothers untimely death, remanded to a mental-health facility. His fight to keep Radio safe and secure in Anderson and as a part of the towns high school football team led the Coach to become a real life hero, champion of humanism, compassion, and understanding. In Coach Jones and in Radio both, the lessons learned include what courage it takes for a person to follow their dream, defy expectations and transcend boundaries.

Coach Jones and Radio both still reside in Anderson, South Carolina, where Radio remains the honorary coach, biggest fan, and cheerleader of the T.L. Hanna High School football team.

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