Detroit — Hardly anybody expected to see wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. at Ford Field on Sunday during the Detroit Lions’ regular-season finale against the Green Bay Packers.
But Jones and family, who on Saturday evening announced the death of their youngest of five children, Marlo, were spotted by teammate Darius Slay the second he ran out of the tunnel for warmups. Slay immediately headed over.
“I saw him on the sideline, said, ‘Oh, Marv came,” Slay said.
Slay and his wife Jennifer spent a few minutes chatting with Marvin and his wife Jazmyn. They shared hugs and words of support. Before kickoff, a moment of silence was held to mourn the Jones family’s loss.
In the cross-section of life and sports, it’s the former that typically reminds of the latter’s unimportance.
Marvin wrote on his Instagram Saturday, “Yesterday the Lord called home a piece of my family’s heart, Marlo. It is hard to believe that our little angel, our fighter from day one, our son “Marlito” has unfortunately passed away and is no longer here with us.
“Marlo, the joy that you brought us everyday, with that smile, and that energy was like heaven on earth.”
In attending the Lions’ final home game of the year less than 48 hours after one of the greatest tragedies that can strike a family, though, a moment of comfort shared between the Jones and Slay families is also a reminder that tragedy is best fought with love — and both as a father and a football player, there are few places where Jones and his family are more adored than the Lions' locker room.
“(We) wanted to play for our family that was hurting, to tell you the truth,” Lions quarterback David Blough said. “We’ve been thinking about Marvin and his family a ton.”
Slay added that after lining up against Jones in practice for several seasons, his relationship with Marvin is “like a family.”
“Marvin, that’s my brother, man. They’ve got to heal for a long time,” Slay said. “For that to happen, that tragedy to happen, I put all this weight on my shoulders. I pray for him.
“I’m still here for his family and hope he is getting through it. I know he’s a great father and he will keep doing what he’s doing.”
Marvin ended his season on injured reserve after suffering an ankle injury earlier this month. Lions head coach Matt Patricia said that he wanted to keep his communications with the Jones family private, but did say that he was “very happy to see him today.”
“He and Jazmyn are great people, and my heart is just so saddened for them and with them right now,” Patricia said.
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.