Students support the Key family in time of grief
Hartselle has always held a special place in the heart of the Key family since they arrived here in 2014. But it grew more special when their hearts were broken in grief after the passing of their brother and uncle Randy Jones.
Jones, the brother of coach Faron Key’s wife Tamisha, lost his four-year-long battle with cancer Nov. 27 at age 54. He was a basketball coach and teacher at West Point High School for more than 30 years.
He brought his Warriors basketball team to Hartselle on January 30, 2020, to face off with his brother-in-law’s Tigers team. Hartselle prevailed that night 85-54 and gave coach Key his 100th victory as the Tigers’ head coach. But the game took second billing to the Key family as Hartselle honored coach Jones and offered support in his cancer battle.
Fast-forward to Dec. 2, less than three years later, it was the students at Hartselle High School showing support for the Key family. This time it was to honor their family member who recently passed away and to show support for a hurting classmate and family.
Before the girls’ game started with Springville, a group of students entered the student section behind the Hartselle bench with their chests painted blue with white letters spelled out #JONESSTRONG.
#JONESTRONG was the rallying cry for the Jones and Key families during Randy’s cancer battle.
On Friday night, it was the students rallying cry for their hurting classmate and family.
“It means a lot to know that the whole school rallied together for our family,” Kiah Key said.
Key, who was close to his uncle, wanted to honor him by wearing blue socks during the Springville game. His teammates and the cheerleaders, who wore blue ribbons in their hair, joined him.
The Tigers picked up a win they had to fight for and come from behind that night, which meant a lot to the Key family.
“To get the win was important to me as we honored my uncle,” Kiah Key said. “The support and love that my friends and classmates showed helped lift us when we needed it most.”
Kohl Key struggled at the funeral but said he heard some comforting words about his uncle that lifted his spirits.
“Randy was called home early,” Kohl Key said. “My uncle’s time on earth was finished, and he is now in a better place.”
The Tigers’ win gave coach Coach Faron Key his 150th at Hartselle. He celebrated his 100th win with his brother-in-law and dedicated his 150th win to Randy’s memory.
“I am very proud of my brother-in-law for the legacy he created for himself,” Coach Faron Key said. “It was cool what the student section did to respect and honor someone they didn’t know to support our family in the loss of a brother, a brother-in-law and an uncle.”
It is moments like these that show how Hartselle comes together as a community.
“What those kids did and why they did it is why we love Hartselle,” he said.