Ex-Robert Morris star Lucky Jones back home after 90-hour journey from Ukraine

Robert Roffulo

Lucky Jones kept looking into the Ukrainian sky, praying mostly, but also squinting, hoping not to see airplanes emerge from behind the clouds. “I didn’t know what to expect,” said Jones, the former Robert Morris basketball star who was playing professionally in Ternopil, Ukraine, until Russia invaded the country Thursday. […]

Lucky Jones kept looking into the Ukrainian sky, praying mostly, but also squinting, hoping not to see airplanes emerge from behind the clouds.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Jones, the former Robert Morris basketball star who was playing professionally in Ternopil, Ukraine, until Russia invaded the country Thursday.

“I just kept looking up the sky, hoping I didn’t see no bombs and no planes or anything that looked like it was trying to attack us. I was trying to get across the border as fast as I could.”

After a 90-hour, five-nation journey — part of which was spent pleading with guards at the Romanian border — Jones, 28, arrived at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., on Saturday afternoon. He planned to run into the arms of his wife, Marissa, and four sons — Ma’Khai, 8, Zakhari, 5, and 2-year-old twins Braylon and Xaiden — at their home in Bowie, Md., in time for dinner.

Jones said he was never in immediate danger in Ukraine, but he knew air attacks were happening nearby.

“Not where we were exactly, but it was around,” he told the Tribune-Review while waiting to gather his bags at Dulles. “Teammates were showing us pictures of videos of places where their families live.”

The journey started by van. Jones and three teammates — Americans Toure Murry and Joe Fustinger and Lithuanian Dominykas Domarkas — and a Ukrainian woman employed by the team traveled southwest to Romania, a NATO nation.

That appeared to be the safest route after Russian military forces reportedly surrounded eastern, northern and northwestern sides of the Ukrainian border.

After riding for five hours and walking the final few miles in freezing temperatures, they encountered a massive traffic jam and hundreds of refugees at the border.

“They were only letting women and kids go through. We were at the border for 10 hours,” he said. “It was very frustrating when you’re actually trying to get out and things weren’t going the way you wanted them to go.”

Finally, they crossed into Romania, made it to Bucharest, the capital, eventually traveling to Amsterdam and finally to Ireland for the flight home.

“Four flights, train, bus, walking, everything. Crazy time,” he said.

Jones, who played on Robert Morris’ NCAA Tournament team in 2015 and is the school’s all-time leading rebounder, has played in several nations overseas since leaving school. He has played for teams in Belgium, France, Greece, Germany, Finland and Ukraine and has seen Spain, Turkey and Italy.

“My passport was fully stamped. I have two passports,” he said.

Jones hadn’t planned to play in the Ukraine this year, but his agent called with a job opportunity and he took it in January.

“I had no intentions on going, but I just decided to go,” he said.

Born Lucious Jones, he played high school basketball at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City, N.J., before attending Robert Morris from 2011-15. He was nicknamed Lucky by his aunt and grandmother after he survived a nearly two-year hospital stay at birth with Hirschsprung disease, a condition that affects the large intestine.

After his Ukrainian ordeal, Jones, 28, is feeling what his nickname implies.

“I’m back, baby,” he said on an Instagram video from Dulles. “I see nothing but beautiful skies, nothing but good vibes. I’m nothing but happy.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .


https://triblive.com/sports/ex-robert-morris-star-lucky-jones-back-home-after-90-hour-journey-from-ukraine/

Next Post

Greg Norman’s war against PGA Tour exists only on paper

It’s unlikely that PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will ever respond to the letter he received this week from Greg Norman, for much the same reason that he probably wouldn’t engage someone wearing a tinfoil hat and shrieking in the street. But if he did reply, Monahan could do worse […]

Subscribe US Now