Eufaula High School went to the Alabama Class 5A state championship on Saturday, and came up just short—one point, to be exact—in overtime. Sylacauga High walked away with the 79-78 victory, and Eufaula player Terrell Jones, after what would be his final game with the team, gave a speech in a press conference that tugged at the tear ducts of just about anybody with a heart in their chest.
Just take a listen:
Jones touched upon something his coach Michael Smith told him and his team from day one: "be different," which is such simple advice. Yet it feels revolutionary coming from a mentor of young people. It's not discipline that drove the team—it was a strive to do something no one else was doing.
Here's Jones' full speech:
"Since Day 1, I remember the first day Coach Smith came in the gym. He told me — he said, ‘If you want to be a state champion, you gotta be different. Everybody can’t be a state champion.’
“I’ve never forgotten a word that man said to me. Each and every second that wind down, I was just thinking, ‘I gotta be different. I gotta separate myself. I gotta separate myself to show that I’m different.’ Because I wanted to be a state champion. We fell one-point short.
“But I know all those young guys in that locker room, they have a bright future. Because everything that I’ve been through, they’re going through and they still have to go through. It’s only gonna make them better. This man right there is the best coach I’ve ever had in my life. I wouldn’t trade him for the world.”
Aside from his touching and selfless speech, it's pretty evident that Jones is that different player. Sure, Jones put up an impressive 20 points—before fouling out with 1:50 left in overtime—but you can just tell from the clips that he's out there, pouring himself into the game. I have a feeling that regardless of Jones's future, he and Smith will keep in touch.