“I’m Going Home, Where I Don’t Have To Worry About A Bomb” | Lucky Jones Flees Basketball Career In Ukraine In Amazing Journey

Image Credit: Twitter screen shot

A U.S. basketball player playing in Ukraine had a harrowing journey to escape the now war-torn country and return to the States.

However, the Newark-born Lucky Jones made it back to his wife and four children with a riveting tale of tension in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“We didn’t see any bombs but by the time we were at the border (the Russian military) were already in the city we were living in,” Jones said to NJ.com.

From Baller To Refugee

The 28-year-old was one of the hundreds of refugees at the Ukraine-Romania border, trying to escape and narrowly finding refuge on the other side of war, especially as a Black man.

Jones was in the country after spending the last seven weeks playing for a professional organization within the Ukrainian Basketball SuperLeague.

“People were going to the grocery store and getting all the food, going to the borders, going to the medical facility to get medicine, going to the bank and taking out their money,” Jones said to CNN.

Americans Fleeing The Ukraine

According to reports, Jones wasn’t the only American on the team. One of his teammates was former NBA player Toure’ Murry, who was also fleeing the western city of Ternipol, Ukraine, where he played for the professional basketball team BC Ternipol.

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American player Joe Fustinger, Lithuanian teammate Dominykas Domarkas, and a Ukrainian woman also headed for Romania after first attempting to go through the Polish border.

According to reports, Jones and his teammates drove five hours in a normally 3.5-hour distance as casualties of standstill traffic. However, when Jones and his teammates walked the final few miles, they joined the more than 500 refugees already at the border.

A Pivotal Moment

“We were on a long line — I’m talking about trucks on top of cars on top of trucks, people arguing, people fighting, police not trying to let us in; it was a mess,’’ Jones said to NJ.com.

According to reports, Marissa Jones, Lucky’s wife back in Maryland, got in touch with the U.S. Embassy to make them aware her husband was stuck in line at the border.

Unfortunately, Jones still had to wait ten hours before crossing the borderline.

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“They didn’t care about none of that,’’ Jones continued to NJ.com. “They were letting about 5 to 10 people in every 30 minutes. It was 500 to 600 people at the border, and that’s not even including the people who were there before us.’

“It was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had in my life.”

Finally Home

Jones and his convoy continued to Bucharest via a six-hour train ride to the capital, where they were able to fly three hours into Amsterdam. They had one more flight through Dublin, Ireland, and back into the United States.

There have been many reports and videos of Africans and Black people attempting to flee Ukraine being turned away from trains and borderlines.

African Ukrainian Exodus

With a reported 4,000 Nigerians studying abroad in Ukraine, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari tweeted that one group of students couldn’t enter Poland and instead detoured to Hungary.

Lucky Jones’ name may be a self-affirming testimony for his group of ball players turned warzone survivors.

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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.