Human billboard gets $20,000 scholarship after chance encounter - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Human billboard gets $20,000 scholarship after chance encounter

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A man working as a human billboard on a West Louisville street corner says his life has turned a major corner after a chance encounter on Martin Luther King Day.

Montez Jones can often be seen at the corner of 26th and Broadway with a sign advertising Colbert Ball Tax Service, dancing -- as much to keep warm as for the performance. Winter weather doesn't slow him down.

"I don't care what the weather is -- I'm coming to work," Jones said. "I want to work."

On Martin Luther King Day, Jones caught the eye of a more high-profile passerby: Rev. Kevin Cosby of Simmons College of Kentucky.

Cosby said Jones was basically a "human billboard, gyrating. I mean, totally depersonalized."

That's when Cosby stopped to talk to Jones.

"A black car just pulled up, and he said, 'Do you know who I am, young man?'" Jones recalled. "I said, 'No sir!'"

The 29-year-old sign guy from Colbert Ball Tax Service suddenly saw life move in a new direction.

"He said, 'I'm Reverend Cosby from Saint Stephen,'" Jones explained. "He said, 'I got this ... opportunity for you."

Cosby is not just a pastor, he's also the President of Simmons College, and he stopped to offer Jones a full ride -- a $20,000 scholarship to attend Simmons.

Cosby said he was trying to "show [Jones] what confidence, hard work, discipline and being around the right environment can do for a person and if he can do it he becomes my example that anyone can be successful." Cobsy looked past the tattooed tears on Jones faces showing where his life had gone awry. 

"My dreams was, I always wanted to be a doctor, but once I grew up and started living in these streets, I got arrested," Jones said. "And with my background, it was over. My dreams were crushed."

The opportunity comes as Simmons begins to rewrite its own story. The small, historically black Bible college just south of downtown will be fully accredited next year. Recognition from the U.S. Department of Education is expected to open up a windfall of federal funding, grants and scholarship opportunities for people like Jones.

The scholarship Cosby offered Jones is worth $2,600 a semester. Cosby is hoping his action will push other local churches to invest in the west end.

"For churches who claim to be Great Commission churches, who have an abundance of resources not to partner with indigenous churches and institutions in west Louisville to stop the carnage misrepresents what the Kingdom of God is all about," Cosby said.

For Jones, it's sign guy today, college student tomorrow.

"It's like me being a newborn -- start my life all over again, fresh," Jones said. "Hopefully it will be a good start for me. I'm going to take it. I'm going to take it and run with it though. I ain't going to let him down."

What a difference a day makes.

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