November 12, 2013 Slideshows » News & Views

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Mark "The Snake" Jones 

Dustin Chambers
Mark “The Snake” Jones gets ready to break at Stooge’s bar in Atlanta. “They call me 'The Snake' because I’m like a viper when I play pool. I’m deadly.”
Dustin Chambers
One night in 1974, Jones was sleeping in the passenger seat of a Volkswagen Beetle his friend was driving to New Orleans. Jones was scheduled to fight in a Mardi Gras karate tournament, but they would never make it. A rear wheel flew off the Volkswagen, sending the car spinning off the highway.

The passenger door flung open, and Jones flew out. All he recalls is seeing a helicopter land, and then waking up in a hospital room, frustrated and confused. He’d broken his back and neck, rendering him paraplegic.
Dustin Chambers
“This red cloth is ugly. They had real tables just the other day. It’s like what you see in the strip club, with strobe lights and girls dancing on it.
Dustin Chambers
Jones is preparing for the world championships in South Africa.

“I try to just totally get my mind off of pool for a while, but when I’m practicing I’m totally into my game, but when it gets to the point when I’m not concentrating when I know I should – once you start missing shots, your mind actually records that also.”
Dustin Chambers
Jones arrives to his brick tower studio apartment near Buckhead.
Dustin Chambers
In an array of photos he has taped to a piano in his apartment, Jones points out him with his grandson Nigel, who will turn 5 in February.
Dustin Chambers
Jones checks himself out in the mirror before his girlfriend comes over.
Dustin Chambers
Jones greets his girlfriend, Marva Kelly, to lunch for some home-cooked ribs. They have been seeing each other for 15 months.
Dustin Chambers
Jones and Kelly are playful during lunch. They talk about mutual friends and work.

“It’s getting better and better every day ... I’ve put her through the test. Like I try to make myself look bad, and she’ll stick with me. She’s a keeper. I love her and I can tell she actually loves me.”
Dustin Chambers
Myriad trophies line the walls of Jones' home. He won the one on the left for a trick competition.
Dustin Chambers
Arriving at Sheperd Spinal Center for a swim, Jones assembles his wheelchair outside of his red Mercedes CLK 430.

When asked about what it’s like to transport his wheelchair everywhere: “It’s like breathing, I don’t even think about it. I’ve been doing it for 39 years. Back then wheelchairs were about 60 pounds, now they’re 22 pounds. It’s much easier now.”
Dustin Chambers
While stretching at the pool, Jones goofs around and shows off his flexibility.
Dustin Chambers
While getting into the pool, Jones picks up his leg and places it into the pool. A scar on his stomach is left from removing a cancerous kidney in 2011.
Dustin Chambers
Jones swims laps three times a week.

“Once I get my body in motion, I can swim two miles. I think about shots I missed, the drills I go through."
Dustin Chambers
“After sitting in a chair, I feel kind of confined. It’s so nice to be out of the chair and be in the water and feel whole again.”
Jones changes in the locker room at Shepherd Spinal Center.
Dustin Chambers
“When I’m driving, I’m looking way down the road and judging distances and seeing the lines and the cars. It’s hard to explain. Even looking up at the ceiling, I look at angles and imaginary lines. I see the pool table and the holes I’m trying to hit mentally. In pool, you actually make the shot mentally before you pull the trigger."
17/17
Dustin Chambers
“When I’m driving, I’m looking way down the road and judging distances and seeing the lines and the cars. It’s hard to explain. Even looking up at the ceiling, I look at angles and imaginary lines. I see the pool table and the holes I’m trying to hit mentally. In pool, you actually make the shot mentally before you pull the trigger."
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