In between writing her husband mushy letters that have now been turned into an autobiography, Marion Jones was in the slammer kickin’ a$$ and taking names.
Okay, she only had to fight one person off her crotch. But as she shares in her new book “On The Right Track,” prison time was no cakewalk for her.
Her 213-page book, written with Maggie Greenwood-Robinson, is based in part on letters Jones wrote to her husband, Obadele Thompson, while she was in a federal prison in Fort Worth. The book contains a harrowing depiction of Jones’ stay.
“I didn’t have a sentence that was a slap on the wrist. I wasn’t sentenced to an institution that I kicked back in a hammock for my time there,” she said, punctuating that point with a chuckle. “It was tough.”
Jones writes about fearing her life was in danger during a five-minute tussle with a roommate. Jones says she emerged uninjured, but the other woman’s face “was bruised and bloody.”
In the interview, Jones called her ensuing trip to solitary confinement “probably the worst part of my life.”
“There were moments while I was there, where you just feel like you cannot go on: ‘How in the world can I make it to tomorrow?'” Jones said.
She writes in depressing detail about prison conditions and specific personnel; about inmates using empty toilet paper rolls threaded through toilets as a sort of telephone; about being chained to her seat during a “ConAir” flight with other prisoners on a trip to another jailhouse.
“What transpired during the period when she was incarcerated was both a crucible but also a wonderful opportunity,” said Thompson, who won a bronze medal for Barbados in the 100 meters at the Sydney Games and married Jones in 2007. “She’s not one of these people who’s bitter. She’s not spiteful. She’s not looking to get even with anyone. She’s just turned it into something positive. She’s used it to take the next steps in life, to rebuild.”
That might be the most interesting part of the book though.
“When people look at this, they might think it’s a tell-all, it’s one of those books that you see celebrities or maybe athletes write after they have just done something horrible. It’s much different than that,” she said.
“It might temporarily help the author get paid,” she added, “but after a while, that story, your story, is not benefiting anybody.”
The book ends with a chapter entitled “Blessed,” and the final paragraph begins, “I don’t want to be remembered for the records I broke, the races I won, or the medals I lost. I want to be remembered for the very worst mistake I ever made and how I turned it into a life-affirming positive for the world.”
Oh. Yawn. Okay then.