By Simon Evans
DALLAS (Reuters) - The Super Bowl is a celebration of corporate sponsors and a game played by millionaires, but James Jones's rise from a homeless shelter to the NFL's title game is a reminder that the sport offers a way out of poverty.
Jones is a key member of the Green Bay Packers' impressive receiver corps that will do battle with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, but before training on Wednesday he took a moment to reflect on his difficult start to life.
"I grew up in homeless shelters from coming out of the hospital until I was a freshman in high school. It was a tough time," Jones told reporters on Wednesday.
"As a little kid, you don't understand why you are there. When I go back to these homeless shelters and talk to these kids, I let them know that it is not your mother's fault and better days are ahead."
James eventually moved in with his paternal grandmother during high school to help his mother get back on her feet, and after excelling in basketball, American football and athletics he won a scholarship to San Jose State University.
After an impressive senior year in college he was selected in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Packers and impressed from the outset.
He has not, however, forgotten where he came from and nor has his mother Janet.
"After we won the NFC Championship my mom called me and she said when I was five years old I told her I was going to the Super Bowl. She was crying because a little kid at five years old telling his mom he was going to go to the Super Bowl, it's like 'whatever go play with your toys,'" said Jones.
"But she believed it, I believed it and we're here. I am just glad to be here experiencing this.""
Jones and his wife Tamika have set up a foundation to help disadvantaged children in the Green Bay area.
"Growing up in a homeless shelter has helped me be a better man and appreciate the little things a lot more. Any time I can help and give back to the kids, I try to do that," said Jones.
Jones may have had a tough start in life but he says he remains deeply committed to his family and that they will get out to watch him on February 6 in Dallas.
"They have supported me through my entire career, they supported me throughout my childhood and all that stuff. I play this game for them," said Jones.
"Every time I go open my locker, I could be having a bad day or a bad practice but you look at the family and it puts everything in perspective. I truly am blessed."
(Reporting by Simon Evans in Dallas; Editing by Frank Pingue; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)