Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — Sore as the incision from his kidney transplant surgery might still be, Donald Jones' outlook on life is suddenly fresh.
Though Jones' NFL career is over, what matters more to the former Buffalo Bills receiver is knowing he has a father willing to sacrifice anything — even a kidney. And that leaves Jones, who turns 26 on Tuesday, thankful for a second chance.
"Going through all of that is like, man, I've got nothing to lose. I've persevered through the worst," Jones said by phone this week from his hospital room at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. "It's really a blessing."
Happy birthday. And Merry Christmas.
Jones had surgery Dec. 3 and was released from hospital Wednesday with a good prognosis for a full recovery.
Though he faces months of rehab, Jones has already made plans for his next chapter. He's determined to pursue another sport — his first love, baseball.
Jones held workouts with scouts before his surgery. Without saying which teams have expressed interest, he is already intending to play winter ball next year.
"I'm going to make a run at it," Jones said. "I'm still young."
Young might be a relative term. Yet as far-fetched as this next pursuit might seem, Jones has been no stranger to beating the odds.
He was first diagnosed with IgA nephropathy — an auto-immune disease affecting the kidneys — during his sophomore season at Lackawanna Community College in Scranton, Pa. Jones continued playing, spending two more years at Youngstown State, where he was regarded a long-shot NFL prospect.
The Bills signed Jones as an undrafted rookie in 2010. He was good enough to make the team and earn a regular role on what eventually became known as Buffalo's "No-Name Offense" of castoffs and journeymen led by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.