Blogs > Burney's Bytes

Burney's Bytes will focus primarily on the local preps sports scene, but will also touch on some college and pro athletics, mostly in regards to athletes who hail and have played high school sports in Oakland County. My goal for the blog is to be conversational and anecdotal, a more relaxed and free formal take on high school athletics than you see in regular game day coverage.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gone Too Soon - RIP Corey Jones and Paul Bradley

So last Saturday, I was at Country Day to cover the Orchard Lake St. Mary's-Saginaw game and I walked by a framed pair of jerseys in a hallway outside the Yellowjackets' state of the art gymnasium and immediately experienced an eerie flashback. The two jerseys that I saw and that are framed and perched on a wall prominently just a few feet away from the DCD locker room once belonged to former Yellowjackets athletes, Corey Jones and Paul Bradley.
Tragically, Jones and Bradley, both only 16 years old, drowned to death in June of 1992. Jones was a basketball player and a member of DCD's 1991 state championship team (C-Webb's third and final wooden mitten). Bradley was a football player and both were very popular amongst the Yellowjacket student body.
I knew Corey Jones as a casual acquaintance back when I was a teenager and I remember the horrible incident very well. Despite being one year younger than him, Jones and I had played some AAU basketball both against and with each other the previous summer. I was not very close friends with him by any means, but I knew him and I thought very highly of him.
I can recall hearing about the tragedy the morning after it happened. I was working at a summer day camp with one of Corey's cousins and she called and told me. It shook me, if only for the fact that I had never known anyone else personally who was my age and who had died before.
The story goes that some DCD athletes were having a party to kick-off summer vacation at one of their family's residences located on a lake in West Bloomfield and Jones and Bradley were in a canoe on the water that capsized. Neither could swim very well and both perished that afternoon – two, young and vibrant young man taken from us too soon.
Seeing those jerseys last Saturday evening as I walked down the hallway at Country Day made me remember Corey and Paul and how much they are missed. I remembered how I felt that day I heard about their passing – burdened, contemplative, sad, sympathetic. I was only 15 years old. I had never thought much about death. At that point in time, I still had all four of my grandparents alive and well.  
Several different forms of a "That could have been me" scenario played in my head over the next few weeks. I knew some of those other DCD athletes from that period too and I know how much that one incident affected them as well as the years went on. Like myself, Corey and Paul would be in their 30's right now. As I was driving away from the game and heading home to write my game story, I wondered what the two of them might be doing now as adults. I couldn't believe that over 17 years had gone by. I felt bad for not having thought about Corey or Paul since probably 1997 – possibly even longer. Tragedy is a term used far too frequently these days and this was a tragedy of epic proportions.   
Corey and Paul never got a chance to finish out their prep playing careers. Not to sound overly- schmaltzy or Mitch Albom-like, but on this week of Christmas, if you play high school sports and you're reading this, try to think of Corey and Paul a few times over the next few days and appreciate the gift that is your own high school playing experience.
Corey Jones 1975-1992
Paul Bradley 1975-1992
You are missed!


Anonymous Adrienne Jones Hampton said...

Good Evening Scott (if I may call you that). I am totally in awe and amazement right now. I was online and searching for some articles on the death of my brother and came across this article. I am Adrienne Jones-Hampton and am the older sister of Corey Jones. As soon as I read the article, I called my mom and my younger sister and I tried to hold the tears as I read the article to them. This is a wonderful tribute that you wrote on my brother and Paul. Even though I did not know Paul, I am sure that his family would love to read this as well. I was away in college (TN) when this accident occurred and not a day goes by that I don't think of Corey. My only child (a son) is named Corey. He is now 10 and hears all the time about his uncle. Again, thank you so much! We appreciate you!

January 12, 2010 at 12:10 AM 
Anonymous Melanie (Jones) Hicks said...

Good Morning. I think my sister said it all. It is so wonderful to know how much our brother is missed, not only by his family but by those who were in his life for only a brief moment! I am Melanie (Jones) Hicks and am the younger sister of Corey Jones. We are 8 years apart and I took his death very hard. For years I seemed to cry everyday because my big brother was taken away from me too soon. But to know he was loved by so many helped me to realize that his short time on this earth had a purpose. I too have a child. She is 4 months old and her name is Peyton CORI Hicks. Thanks sooooo much for this article!

January 12, 2010 at 10:40 AM 
Anonymous Natasha said...

I am the 1st Cousin of Mr. Corey Jones. I remember that tragic day. I was a teenager being nosey on the other end of the phone when my mom got the call. Corey was like my second brother. We miss him but it makes me smile to know he walking around Heaven. Thank you.

January 12, 2010 at 2:06 PM 
Anonymous Lisa said...

wow....Although, I never had an opportunity to met Corey, I am literally holding back tears now. Adrienne and Melanie are two of my dearest friends and through the tow of them i've heard lots of good stories about Corey. If he were anything like the rest of the family, he had to be a very special person. I love you Jones family and RIP to Corey and Paul.

January 13, 2010 at 1:06 PM 
Anonymous Tracie said...

Greatly missed and loved dearly is what I think of when I remember the time I shared with Corey. He was totally a joy to be around. We had so much fun together that it was crazy! And having experienced that bond with someone as special as Corey was truly awesome! I can't ever forget him...The other day I drove past Country Day and I got a little sad then my heart filled with wonderful memories and what ifs. If he were still here I know I'd be Mrs. Corey Jones. Thanks for sending me this Mel and can you tell Tito to give me some tissue! I love yall!

January 13, 2010 at 2:53 PM 
Anonymous mversaci said...

Wow! I went to DCD with Paul and Corey. Paul and I were in the same class and played football together. With the two other sophomores that made varsity that year, we referred to ourselves as the "Super Sophs." Sadly, Paul and Corey never had the time to fully realize their limitless potential, but everyone that knew them will never forget how super they were. Loved by all of their classmates, Paul and Corey were always smiling, laughing, and having fun.....Thank you for this tribute and thank you for reminding me of PB & CJ.

January 15, 2010 at 10:53 PM 

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