Oct. 4, 2007
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - ESPN's Outside the Lines will present a special documentary Sunday, Oct. 7 (6:30 a.m. PT) about the infamous 1978 Jonestown mass murder suicide, and the impact basketball has had on the son and grandson of Jonestown leader Reverend Jim Jones.The program will show how basketball saved the life of Jim Jones, Jr., and is serving as the springboard for his son to remove notoriety from the Jones name following the Jonestown massacre.
Outside the Lines - Jonestown: The Game of their Lives tells the story of how Jones, Jr., the adopted son of Rev. Jim Jones, survived the November 1978 Jonestown tragedy because he was playing basketball hours away from the Peoples Temple compound the day his father led 914 of his followers to their deaths. The special documentary also shows how Jones, Jr.'s son Rob, a highly recruited University of San Diego freshman, is restoring pride to the Jones name through his success on the basketball court.
The special ESPN documentary on Outside the Lines, reported by Chris Connelly, features the first public interview with Johnny Cobb, a close family friend of the Joneses and point guard of the Peoples Temple team, as well as never-before-seen photographs obtained from the FBI, home video, and pictures from personal photo collections.
"Rob Jones is an impressive young man, and it's clear how much his success as a basketball player and person means to his family," Connelly said. "We are fortunate to be able to document his achievements, and while doing so, shed somelight on a little-known chapter of the Jonestown story."
This special Outside the Lines documentary took producer Jon Fish to Guyana, only the third American film crew to return to Jonestown since 1979 (the one-year anniversary of the massacre). His search team found the thickly overgrown remnants of the man-made, wooden basketball court on which Jones, Jr. and other People's Temple members played to prepare for their game against the Guyana national team. Playing in that basketball tournament in Georgetown, Guyana allowed Jones, Jr. to survive and return to America where he is now watching his son strive to erase the notoriety surrounding their family surname.
"We needed machetes to get through the thick brush, then finally standing in what was once Jonestown, I was stunned thinking of what was accomplished there, yet felt the sadness at what was its final chapter," Fish said. "This is a case of sport truly saving lives, and as we searched for their wooden court amongst the dense brush, I could feel the power of the jungle surrounding me - it's a solemn, haunting place."
From Outside the Lines - Jonestown: The Game of their Lives
"I wouldn't be talking to you if it wasn't for basketball, it saved my life." - Jim Jones, Jr.
"I love his game, I respect his game, but I also see Jimmy's son, and I'm so proud of him. When I see him out there I'm seeing more than just a basketball game." - Johnny Cobb, close family friend of the Joneses and point guard of the Peoples Temple team, on the significance of Rob Jones' basketball success,
"I remember, even in Jonestown, basketball being such a release, a place to go and let go all of my frustration and rage. It was a borderline rebellious act for us to play organized ball, we always felt guilty." -- Stephan Jones (Rob's uncle and son of Rev. Jim Jones), on playing basketball against the wishes of his father
"I'm just proud to do what I do and give the family a good name. It's probably one of the greater feelings I've had in my life." - Rob Jones