MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Javaris Jones loves basketball and cars. His mentor Dave, not so much but somehow they have formed a special bond.
“We basically go to the movies, Heat games, but mostly he has me at book stores getting books,” says Javaris, 13, with a smile during his interview at Books and Books in Coral Gables. “I even started my own book library. I have like 7, 8, 9 books in there. I think you read more, you learn more.”
Javaris’ mentor David Lawrence is a strong believer in education.
“My hope is that I can expose Javaris to some things that will give him a head start on adulthood,” said Lawrence.
Lawrence, a legend here in Florida currently serves as the Chairman of the Children’s Movement. Before retirement he was the publisher of the Miami Herald.
The print publication was awarded five Pulitzer Prizes under his leadership.
“I think all children need to see what works in society, what’s possible in society. What’s beautiful so you go to something like the Adrienne Arsht Center, it’s important to see beauty and to understand where we are in history,” said Lawrence.
Javaris is growing up in Miami’s Liberty Square neighborhood where he lives with his mother and six brothers and sisters.
“I hear police sirens and helicopters and it’s not good. There’s a lot of drama with guys who hang around the community. If they stopped it (the community) would be good,” said Javaris.
Javaris was six years old when he was father was imprisoned.
“Javaris is in a program called Children of Inmates, painfully, sadly his father is in prison. I’ve visited his father in prison. So father is clearly a very smart man. My hope is that when he gets out he will use all that smartness to do wonderful things after this detour in his life,” said Lawrence.
In the meantime, Javaris stays focused. He attends West Miami Middle School’s Magnet Program and he loves to play basketball.
His mother, Laquita Williams says she sees a difference in Javaris since David came into his life two years ago.
“When Dave came in that’s that male role model to show him that this is way things need to be done, like he taught him reading more and books. It makes me feel good to know that he not only has my support but he has support. I try to instill him do your best do the best you can do,” said Williams.
Lawrence has introduced Javaris to civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis and former Miami Heat superstar Alonso Mourning. Both gave Javaris advice on his future.
“I want Jarvaris to be exposed to enough things, enough people, enough values that he will be able to make wise choices as he grows up and he does great things,” added Lawrence.
And Javaris is feeling a difference too. “I read more books, I’m more responsible, and I take care of the house,” he said.
“This country can’t afford to leave people behind. Who knows what Javaris could do, what he could find, what he could conquer, and what difference he could make as one human being. I’m very optimistic about Javaris,” said Lawrence.
The day our crew filmed Javaris and David, they visited Books and Books in Coral Gables. Javaris picked out the book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’
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