AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — An Aurora athlete is now a gold medalist. The 19-year-old is a member of the U.S Paralympic Sled Hockey Team and recently returned from Beijing sporting a new shiny accessory around his neck.
Malik Jones is truly a role model who shines on and off the ice. He’s a fierce competitor and standout player who you can’t miss gliding on the ice.
“Every time I get on the ice, I feel normal, like I have no disability,” Jones said.
Jones is a double amputee. He was born without tibias and had both legs amputated at just 10 months old and was also born with hand malformations. But his disability doesn’t stop him. Every Monday and Wednesday, he practices at Big Bear Ice Arena to perfect his craft and stay in shape. FOX31 caught up with his stepmom at practice. She is one of his biggest fans.
“You can’t tell him no,” she said. “You can’t tell him he can’t do something, because he will absolutely find a way to say, yes I can!”
Jones’ childhood dream is now a reality. Since he was 7 years old, Jones has been wanting to compete in the Paralympics and bring home the gold. During the interview, Jones took out his gold medal and put it around his neck with a huge smile on his face.
“It feels so good, every time I look at it, I just get happy and smile because it’s just something that I worked for a long time,” Jones shared.
Determination carries far
When Jones was young, he didn’t have enough strength to grip the sticks and had them taped to his hands so he could still play. That determination carried him to the world’s largest sporting platform. He’s one of the newest members of the U.S. sled hockey team but skated with the U.S. Development Sled Hockey Team for three seasons.
“I wanted to be on the team so bad, like I did everything,” Jones said. “I made the development team, but I still wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to be on that top team and so I kept working and working.”
At 19 years old, Jones tried out for the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team and beat out dozens for a spot. He recalls the moment he found out he made the team.
“I screamed!” Jones exclaimed. “I was like, ahhh! I can’t believe it! I told my dad and told anybody I could.”
The team traveled to China last month to compete in the Beijing games with America coming out on top, beating Canada.
“We won gold and all my teammates, we did a dog pile with our goalie at the end. I was just hugging everybody.”
Breaking barriers, Jones is only the second Black athlete to have represented the U.S. in sled hockey at the Paralympics. But it hasn’t always been celebrations. Two years ago Jones lost his mother and grandmother while training for the team.
Jones’ world crashed, but he took his pain out on the ice — making the team and getting the gold for his mother and grandmother. Jones credits his grandmother for getting him into the sport, always pushing him to be great.
Jones shared that he also dealt with bullying in school, but he got tough and stronger on the ice, serving as a role model for those with disabilities and athletes around the world.
“Just because you’re like this (points to legs) or have a disability, whatever you’re going through, you can still pursue whatever you want,” Jones said. “You just have to turn that pain or whatever you’re going through into motivation.”
Jones holds his medal close but is humbled by the entire experience. He says right now he is training for upcoming tournaments and training for tryouts to hopefully make Team USA again and play in the 2026 games in Italy.