Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post

(From left to right) Tommy Freeman, DeVaughn Washington, John Groce, Asown Sayles and Adetunji Adedipe pose for a picture Mar. 1 in The Convo. Four seniors were honored before playing Akron in the season’s last home game. Ohio won 80-55. (Alex Goodlett | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Men's Basketball: Mother shapes Sayles into responsible player

As Asown Sayles waited to be announced with Ohio’s other three seniors on Senior Day, he couldn’t hold back a smile.

After his name was called, he sauntered toward center court, smile growing bigger. When he finally arrived, Sayles embraced his mother with a loving hug to let her know how important she is to him.

Sayles is the oldest Bobcat on the basketball team. His age and calm, mature temperament have earned him the nickname “Grandpa.” During Senior Day, the woman who played the biggest role in that development stood before Sayles.

“It was just all the pieces fitting together,” said his mother Anica Jones. “His hard work and his obedience are paying off. A lot of times you do the right thing. Senior Day showed the reward of his hard work and endurance.”

As the single mother of four, Jones balanced running a daycare center while raising her children. She noticed maturity in Asown, her third-youngest child, when he was at an early age.  

“He’s always been mild-mannered and even-keeled,” Jones said. “If he’s upset, you don’t know it. If he’s happy, you don’t know it.”

With his mother taking care of three other siblings while he was growing up, Sayles learned humility and perseverance as he became older. He looks at life as a “long road,” as something that needs to be taken day by day.

“I’ve always been that way. It wasn’t anything in particular. It’s just been a long, steady process,” Sayles said. “I just take everyday as a learning lesson and just try to grow from everything and try to apply it to life.”

Sayles’ relationship with his late nephew, Yasere, taught him selflessness. The son of his sister Jamaca, Yasere was born with cerebral palsy and passed away last October at the age of 11.

To honor him, Sayles has his name tattooed on his right bicep, one of nine tattoos he has to symbolize his upbringing. Another one is Jones’ name across his chest.

“The whole situation was tough, especially finding out about it,” Sayles said. “I didn’t get to see him before he passed away. ... I always put him before myself. Whenever he was around, he was always my first priority  — no matter what.”

Even when Yasere suffered from a young age, Asown was always there to support him through his hours of treatment at the hospital. They maintained a lasting bond throughout Yasere’s life, even as he continued to suffer.

As Yasere’s grandmother, Jones watched in admiration as Sayles kept his nephew company.

“They had a very, very close relationship,” Anica said. “Asown was his favorite uncle. ... I just believe that since he’s been an obedient that God has things stored for him in the future.”

Sayles has become a player coach John Groce says can handle any situation successfully and appropriately. Despite Sayles being a role player who rarely sees quality minutes, Groce sees Sayles as someone that’s had an “incredible amount” of influence on his younger teammates.

“He’s been through a lot — both successes and adversity,” Groce said. “He understands how to handle himself, and that’s a gift.”

Sayles’ college career hasn’t been without adversity, either. A torn labrum forced him to sit out the 2008–09 season. He elected to graduate last spring and did not return to the team for this season until the summer. Rumors circulated that he left to make room for a scholarship.

“His whole ordeal has shown him a lot of lessons,” Jones said. “Even if you’re good at something, there’s always going to be obstacles. You’re not always going to be in the limelight, and he’s learned that in his career.”

Despite it all, Sayles has dealt deftly with adversity. It’s something that doesn’t go unnoticed by teammates.

“When he talks, we’re all fortunate to listen to him,” fellow senior Adetunji Adedipe said. “… His career has been like a rollercoaster ride. No matter what, he’s always had a positive outlook.”

When discussing how his teammates see him, Sayles shows a quick smile as he quietly talks about his leadership style.

The calm strength has been with him his entire life, and he’s still figuring out a way he can honor the woman who has done so much for him.

“Her raising us, she just always made sure we had what we needed and wanted. She always went above and beyond 100 percent,” Sayles said. “There’ll never be a way I can pay her back.

“I’m trying my hardest to get to the point where I could do such a thing.”


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH