Basketball, like many sports, is a game of expression and style. Whether you're a slick ball handler or a high-flying dunker, you have a style on the court. In addition to style, basketball also allows you to express yourself.
In a sport with so much talent and so many legends, it can be nearly impossible to stand out. Originality is harder and harder to come by. Not for Jesse Jones, however. Jones is a talented basketball player, but also an incredible entertainer, whose dancing and singing just lights up a room (or gym). In order to express himself better on the court and stand out, Jesse created "Filayyyy." It's four Y's at the end, don't forget it. Funnily enough, Jones' inspiration for a word that would become both a movement and an identity, started in the kitchen.
No seriously, filet mignon is what Jesse Jones drew on for inspiration when he came up with his infamous Filayyyy. Filayyyy is as well known as Jelly and has even become a staple phrase throughout the NBA. As Isaiah Washington's Jelly has transformed a lay up into a movement, Jones has been doing something similar with Filayyyy. While much of the focus of Jelly is more on a type of layup, Filayyyy isn't just one move. It's what it represents, it's a phrase you can hear everywhere and it's a cool grassroots movement that has changed Jones' life.
First thing's first, let's address the spelling of Jones' move and movement. Filayyyy has four y's, as confirmed by Jones himself. Before Jones was the CEO of Filayyyy, he was a young kid growing up in Irvington, New Jersey, just east of Newark. When he was younger, he always saw his brother and father playing basketball. As influential as siblings can be, Jones saw his brother's talents and immediately wanted to see what basketball was all about.
Soon, like so many others, he got hooked and fell in love with the game. "I started practicing everyday when I was 12/13," says Jones. Talent didn't grow over night, but Jesse stayed at it and soon hard work started paying off. After a career at Hudson Catholic High School and some time at a community college, Jones transferred to the University of Bridgeport. Jesse had gotten to a place where his drive and basketball talent allowed him to compete at a high level, while getting a strong education. The CEO of Filayyyy was making basketball count.
Now, the story of Filayyyy finds its origin two years ago in 2015. Who'd have thought a simple filet mignon dish was about to inspire a young man, a movement and many around him? "It came about because I heard filet mignon a lot, like the food," Jones explains. "As we all know cooking and cooking on the court comes hand and hand, so I made up Filayyyy, which means you cooking on the court."
While this move has long become associated with the word Filayyyy, Jesse doesn't see it as just a move. "I don't consider Filayyyy a layup, I'm different," says Jesse. "Filayyyy is something you say after a great move." So while Jones created a unique type of lay up, Filayyyy goes beyond that. It's a layup, but more importantly it's a creative and original way to express yourself and celebrate yourself on the court. Let Jesse explain:
"I wanted to start my own thing and create my own word that I can use when I play basketball and what made it different is that I can sing as well, so I carried on with it from there," says Jesse. "Recently I added the MoveMent part to it. For the kids that follow Filayyyy I preach positivity, self-motivation, being your own person, so that's how I came up with Filayyyy from wanting to be different from others." Spend any time with Jesse, especially if he's serving up some singing, and you see him glow with positivity.
In the beginning, Jesse relied on social media to get his name, movement and message out there. Anyone he came in contact with was someone who he could introduce to Filayyyy. As it grew, and grow it did, Jones was pleasantly surprised.
"I didn't expect it to get to where it is today. My main goal was to get to a point where people around me would say it, but now everybody is saying it," says Jesse. "It's crazy how it's spreading and Overtime definitely helped it grow by posting me and shouting me out on the app as well."
As Jesse has worked on Filayyyy and himself, he couldn't help but notice what Isaiah Washington and Jelly Fam have been cooking up and spreading.
"The jelly movement is dope, it's big. Much respect to their movement - we all cool as friends and support each other," Jones explains.
As discussed earlier, Filayyyy is less of a layup and more an expression. So when Jesse was asked about his favorites, he thinks of them more as his favorite memories on the court. And as he would say, he's got a lot of them.
"One memorable moment I had was in Red Bank at a summer league. I went between the legs, behind the back, and step back for the three, while the defender was falling after the behind the back step. I made the shot - crowd went crazy!" says Jones. From hooping all over New York to balling out at Isaiah Whitehead's Cookout, Jesse has a ton of favorites, and he's looking to create even more.
Filayyyy's popularity is a testament to how likable and driven Jesse is. But new popularity and recognition doesn't see Jones resting easy. He's hustling every day to improve on what he's built and go even farther.
"Right now I'm working every day staying ready so I can go play pro overseas and pushing Filayyyy to the top, as well, by motivating and building each," Jesse explains.
Below is his final message, rather a reflection, on how far he's come, what he's about and the perspective he's gained over the years. It's about the platform and opportunities that have been presented to him thanks to basketball, as well as those that he's earned.
"First, I wanted to say that basketball had been a big part of my life. It kept me out of trouble, made me focused as a person and player, and helped me build confidence. Basketball has taken me places that I've never been before and I've been graceful and blessed to be playing this game I love and cherish every day. It helped me grow from being childish to mature and it has opened up a lot of opportunities for me, such as leagues. Basketball is everything to me."