Posted on 22 July 2013.
On growing up in a competitive family…
To most people, keeping up with the Joneses involves competition with a friend or a neighbor. For this extraordinary family, it means keeping up and keeping with each other. With two professional NFL players, a number one ranked UFC fighter and the loving memory of a departed sister, the definition of success has a stronger, more inspired meaning for these three brothers. The unity brings about a family bolstered by internal support, sharpened by humility and galvanized by shared strength.
Chandler: As the baby brother, I had to live up to their name. I had a brother that was a UFC fighter. He’s now a UFC champion. I had another brother that was [playing] for the Baltimore Ravens. He’s now a Super Bowl champion. I felt like I was the last piece of the puzzle. Thank God I was drafted to the New England Patriots.
Jon: With two athletic brothers it was great. I grew up with old-school, traditional parents. They tried to raise us as old-school as possible in a very competitive household. I remember having lots of love in the house and being very sports-oriented. People ask me about my brothers all the time. Chandler especially, him being the youngest and the newest on the scene. The way he started off with the Patriots on fire; sacks and fumbles every game.
Oh, man, it was crazy. Constant competition for everything. When we were kids, if the light switch was going to be on or off, there was a fight
over it. We fought over video games, who ate the last cookie—constant competition. That’s what made us great today: striving to beat each other.
About great parenting…
Wisely protecting their children from negative influences, parents Camille and Arthur Jr. made decisive choices to control the environment the children developed in. A tough move from the inner city of Rochester, New York to the small town of Endicott, New York and rigorous family rules encouraged the brothers to keep each other out of trouble and focused on the right things.
Chandler: We were very very sheltered, all three of us. We weren’t allowed to sleep over at anybody’s house. We weren’t allowed to go to parties. We were all we had, just us three. If we had to have fun, we had to have fun with each other. That’s what made us so strong, today. Our brotherhood is closer the older we get.
It was different having to pick up and move. Rochester is where we were born, I would say, pretty much raised. We moved when I was 10. Our spiritual background, they way we are, the way we talk, everything about us, it started in Rochester, New York. Unfortunately, Rochester has a lot of gang violence and dad wanted to give us the best chances of success
. He moved us to a suburban area and I think it helped out a lot, keeping us on that straight and narrow, focused on what we needed to do.
There was just a lot of crime. One day, my dad came home
at six o’clock
and there was a shooting — there was a dead body right in front of our house. That was the last straw. He got us out of there. It was really tough: all of our friends and our family were from Rochester. It was a total shock and a whole different atmosphere moving to Endicott, New York. There is not much in Endicott, a bunch of cows and chickens. We started playing sports and pushing each other.
On family values…
While the brothers were sheltered from dangerous and potentially destructive situations, the raw and sometimes painful truth of the world was never hidden from them. Where many parents with athletically talented children push them towards excellence, Arthur, Jr. believed that true motivation had to come from within. Instead, the focus was on educating the siblings on the various challenges that many adults experienced—reality becoming a potent tool to illustrate valuable lessons.
Chandler: If I wasn’t in the NFL I would be running a foundation. My major in college was Child and Family Studies. With that major I can do a ton of things—open day care centers across the world. I’m good with kids. I love kids and in my future I’ll be working along those lines. I’m most grateful for my family. I always brag about my family—my mother and my father. I feel like they are very humble and we were raised correctly.
Jon: I think our parents just being who they were was a big motivator for us. My mom was a developmental aid, helping the developmentally handicapped. It could be intimidating for little kids to be around adult mentally handicapped people but, from a young age we learned to just accept people for who they are. We learned to never mind that type of stuff. Our dad being a pastor, we just heard all types of life issues that young kids wouldn’t necessarily be introduced to, it gave us a people skill that most people wouldn’t necessarily have.
Art: My dad was a wrestler, also. He never really pushed us. My dad believed that when you push kids too hard they tend to burn out and not want to play sports. He never forced his hand in any way or any sport. It’s something that
we did to keep out of trouble. Something to do in Endicott. We excelled at our sports.
The hardest lesson…
Out of all the hardships, changes, and challenges, the tragic loss of their sister Carmen to a battle with brain cancer was one of the most difficult. The oldest of the children and the caretaker to the brothers, the entire family contributed to caring for her after the diagnosis. Each brother reveres Carmen’s memory differently.
Our sister is the one who motivated all three of us. Both of my brothers have her name tattooed somewhere on their bodies. I’m not going to get any tattoos but, I write her name on my gloves, my cleats and my gear. It’s motivating and helps me both physically and mentally; going through that type of adversity and fighting
Our sister doesn’t get overlooked. Maybe by mainstream America and people who are sports fanatics but not by our family, and our home
town and our church. We always keep her alive. Our sister was an awesome girl. She was a tall, beautiful girl and had a beautiful voice. She was a high school honor roll student. She was on the basketball
team. She was kind to everyone—a beautiful person. A light to the world. I remember nothing negative about her. I named my youngest daughter Carmen after her.
Art: My sister was a bright, beautiful, talented young woman. God took her at an early age. Sometimes you wonder why things happen to good people. She was one of those good people. She was beautiful. She had a bright future. Her grades were perfect. She sung in choirs. Her senior year she started having headaches and within a month’s time, they said she had cancer — a brain tumor the size of a tennis ball. It’s still something that is tough to talk about to this day. My parents still have a hard time. I think that makes us all stronger in a way. She’s looking down on us and smiling.
Making financial decisions…
Their grounded upbringing and emotional understanding that life cannot be taken for granted has precluded them from being short-sighted with their decisions, helping them to avoid the common pitfalls associated with high income at a young age. The brothers are focused on the long term, acutely aware of the brevity their professional sports careers represent in relation to the longevity of their lives.
The best advice I’ve gotten: pick a financial advisor. In the situation I was in, being a first-round draft pick, I was tossed a lot of money
all at once. Having a financial advisor that I trust and had a relationship with before being in the NFL helped a lot. Be smart with your money
. Don’t go out and buy everything you see on TV. The biggest advice is: just be smart.
It wasn’t like winning the lottery. It has been been hard work
, dedication and waking up early every day, going to bed late and grinding hard. It was earned, so that takes away a bit of the ‘wow’ factor. I don’t know [about other people’s failures]. Those failures could be caused by giving responsibilities to people that aren’t qualified. Right now, I’ve aligned myself with some legit people and we’re doing a good job
taking care of the business aspects. They will continue to do a good job
even when I’m done.
Having all this money
and trying to manage it, is crazy. I said to my teammate the other day, “Man, I’m having a mid-life crisis. What am I going to do when I’m done?” I have a college degree. I’m blessed that I’m making this kind of money
now but it’s going to be weird to have a regular job
. Everyone wants to spend your money
. I would say, save everything. It’s tough, but that would be my best advice. You see so many guys trying to keep with the big guys. Save everything and prepare for the future.