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Petey Jones, star on ‘Remember the Titans’ football team, dies at 65

Petey Jones, a popular member of T.C. Williams High School’s legendary Virginia state championship football team in 1971 and a longtime employee of Alexandria City Public Schools, died early Monday morning after a long battle with prostate cancer.

Mr. Jones passed away around 2:40 a.m. at Prince William Medical Center in Manassas, Va., his daughter Keisha Boggan Campbell said. He was 65.

Mr. Jones had just retired last fall after nearly 30 years as an employee of Virginia’s Alexandria City Public Schools, including a long stint as a security officer at T.C. Williams High School. It was there that Mr. Jones first rose to fame as a senior football player in 1971, helping lead the Titans on an undefeated state championship run that was later dramatized in Disney’s 2000 film ‘‘Remember the Titans,’’ in which actor Donald Faison played Mr. Jones.


Before that season, Mr. Jones had played at George Washington High School before it became one of Alexandria’s three high schools — along with T.C. Williams and Francis Hammond — to merge, sending upperclassmen to T.C. Williams and consolidating the other two into junior high schools.

As Herman Boone, the team’s African-American head coach who was portrayed in the movie by Denzel Washington, worked to integrate the team at T.C. Williams, Mr. Jones became a magnetic presence, a flirty jokester who was often known for organizing dice games in the bathroom. He also requested to switch from running back to linebacker during his senior year and played a key role for the Titans defense.

‘‘Petey Jones is the best football player I’ve ever coached. He was tough, he was hard-nosed, he was mean, he was agile, mobile, and hostile,’’ Boone said in a telephone interview on Monday. ‘‘He was a great kid, a great person. Everybody loved Petey.”

Mr. Jones was born at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Alexandria on Nov. 20, 1953. After graduating from T.C. Williams, Mr. Jones accepted a football scholarship to Norfolk State, but withdrew in his sophomore season after having rarely seen the field.


He eventually returned to Alexandria and gave back to the community, joining the Alexandria Parks Department in 1986.

Mr. Jones later became a beloved security guard at T.C. Williams, where sometimes the male students would joke with him about his character’s famous fumbling problem in the movie, which Mr. Jones would later say was fictional.

‘‘And I did not fumble the football,’’ he said in a 2014 story in The Washington Post.