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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Now playing in Tucson: the Grigsby family

Gordon Bates / Arizona Summer Wildcat
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Summer Wildcat

Nothing eases pain better than family — just ask Arizona running back Nic Grigsby.

The senior spent most of the 2009 season nursing a shoulder injury that affected him both on and off the field. He missed three full games, saw limited time in six and wasn’t exactly everyone’s favorite player to be around.

But after urging brother Terris Jones, sister Destiny Grigsby and mother Bernice Grigsby to join him for his senior season in Tucson, Arizona’s electric running back now has his medicine.

All four of them live in the same house together, continuing the bond that was absent during the last three years.

“”It’s definitely good to have the family out here and supporting you and being in your corner,”” Nic Grigsby said. “”It’s something that I’ve been looking for and waiting for.””

The first order of business was bringing his brother, Jones, to Arizona. Jones, who goes by the name PJ, had offers from a handful of Pacific 10 Conference schools for track after he won the California state championship in triple jump.

The California High School product also had offers to play football for Baylor University and Vanderbilt University after finishing his senior year with 1,912 yards rushing and 26 touchdowns.

But as has been the case since he was little, Jones listened to the “”father figure”” in his life.

“”I had other offers for track and for football, but my brother just decided he wanted me to come here and earn my scholarship, so that’s why I walked on,”” said the 5-foot-9, 180-pound back.

Both Grigsby and Jones grew up without a father. They “”moved everywhere,”” and “”always had to switch schools,”” according to Jones, but have found strength in each other.

“”We never had a father figure so we all looked up to each other and (Nic) has always been a father figure to me,”” said Jones, who is still only 17 years old. “”We’re super close. All my brothers, there’s four of us and one sister. We just got to stick together.””

Nic Grigsby has always been protective of his little brother, dating back to their early days. Jones explained that once, when they were younger, some guys tried to jump him after a pickup game, but his big brother “”came back with a hammer and scared them away.””

Needless to say, the brothers-turned-teammates are close.

“”We do everything together,”” Nic Grigsby said. “”He tries to be just like me,”” he added with a laugh.

Jones said that, as brothers do, he and the Wildcats’ starting running back are “”always butting heads”” at home, but no love is lost.

“”At the end of the day, we’re still brothers, we love each other,”” Jones said. “”I’m just happy that our whole family’s down here.””

The Arizona running back duo has a brother, Ahmad, living in Atlanta and another brother, Marcellus, in Philadelphia. But the foundation of their lives is now right across the hall — Bernice Grigsby, who transferred from a Veterans Affairs hospital in Long Beach, Calif., to Tucson.

After Jones chose Arizona, Nic Grigsby said there was no choice but to move the whole Grigsby family from Whittier, Calif., to Arizona.

“”My mom would have been in California by herself, so I was like, ‘look, PJ is going to be here for four years so you might as well just come on down and support me in my last year, come to all the games, which you couldn’t do last year,'”” Nic Grigsby said.

Bernice Grigsby was only able to see one of her son’s games in 2009, when Arizona played at Southern California.

Nic Grigsby said, “”it was hard”” without his mother at the games, but in his final season as a Wildcat, she’ll be able to watch her son play at all seven home games and in the Rose Bowl — against UCLA on Oct. 30, that is.

His sister, Destiny Grigsby, also came along as a transfer from California State University, Northridge. The senior running back’s fan section grew only by two, but they just happen to be two of the most important people in his life.

“”Like I said, we had no father so our biggest reason to succeed is our mother and that’s pretty much the reason why we’re out here doing out here today, to please our mom,”” Jones said. “”She’s been everything to me. I’m a huge mama’s boy. I do everything for her, I live up to her standards. I just love my mom.””

Jones is working to go from a walk-on to a scholarship, and expects to see the field in 2011. While Jones embarks on his Arizona journey, big brother is wrapping his up.

The senior running back has eight more games in his collegiate career and will graduate in the spring with a degree in family studies and human development.

His future in football is still to be determined, but Nic Grigsby has become more of a man with his family looking up to him — something much more valuable than electric touchdown runs.

“”I’ve seen it, he’s been maturing,”” Jones said of his older brother.

“”I got to be on my P’s and Q’s all the time,”” Nic Grigsby said. “”I’ve got all the teammates looking up to me, my little brother definitely looking up to me. He’s maturing himself so, it’s just more playing a role of a leader.””

 

Half-brothers or not?

Jones and Nic Grigsby have different fathers, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t full brothers, according to the senior running back.

“”Naw man, we full brothers man; he came out of my mom,”” Nic Grigsby said when asked if they were half brothers. “”I don’t know why everybody keep saying that — he’s my full brother. If he’s your half brother he comes from your daddy, not from your mom. If he comes from your mom, he’s full blood.””

 

Jones to be a dual-sport athlete

Jones, who owns a 41-inch vertical and can dunk a basketball at only 5-foot-9, is planning on joining the track team as well.

“”I love track, I love jumping so hopefully I can get a chance to do it here,”” Jones said.

Arizona wide receiver and kick returner Travis Cobb ran track for the Wildcats last season as a sprinter, and Jones looks to follow a similar path, only in triple jump.

“”I talked to him, (Cobb) said it’s tough, because he’s a sprinter, but I’m a jumper so it might be a little bit easier,”” Jones said.

 

Big brother, the enforcer

When asked of a funny story about Nic Grigsby from their childhood, Jones said: “”Probably the funniest one is, we were visiting family out in Oxnard, (Calif.,) and we went to go get a pickup game with a couple of friends down the street. We were killing them basically, they got mad told us to leave. I was a little kid, Nic was older so they tried to rough me up, tried to jump me, I guess, and Nic came back with a hammer and they got all scared and ran away. We got in trouble for it but that was pretty much one of the funniest stories.””

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