Sacks for Cierra
Mizzou lineman sacks for his sister.
When Kony Ealy arrived at Mizzou in 2010 from New Madrid, Mo., he was a slight (for a defensive end) 215-pounder waiting in the shadow of future NFL Pro Bowler Aldon Smith. Now he is a 6-foot-5-inch, 270-pound hulk.
But ask Kony, 22, about his sister, and he melts.
Cierra Jones, 23, was born with a chromosomal condition that impairs her speech. She communicates through sign language and a limited vocabulary, which includes yelling her baby brother’s name when the siblings are reunited after long breaks.
“She is always happy to see me,” Kony says. “For all we have been through, I haven’t seen her cry about it or complain one time. She’s incredible.”
Kony and Cierra grew up with their mother, Nettie Jones, in a rough area of St. Louis. When Kony headed down a troublesome path during middle school, his dad, Willie Ealy, moved the family to southeast Missouri.
Kony was a football and basketball star at New Madrid County Central High School. Sierra took the bus every day to a nearby special education school. While at home, Kony helped with her communication and social skills around friends and family.
Eventually, Kony chose Mizzou over schools including Nebraska and Arkansas. The separation was hard on Cierra at first. But she enjoys road trips and crowds, so Tiger games provide a new kind of excitement. Her “little” brother, who dedicates everything he does to Sierra, supplies the gridiron highlights.
“She loves being in the car with the sun out, windows down and music blasting,” says Kony, referring to the four-hour car ride from the Bootheel. “She might not always understand everything going on down on the field, but she loves being around people.”