Irvington native is ‘Filayyyying’ it

Photos Courtesy of Jesse Jones Sr.
Jesse Jones Jr., poses in high school with his Irvington High School basketball teammates. He is the one in the middle, smiling, wearing crocs, with a baseball hat on backwards and with his hands on the shoulders of the player with a melting Rubik’s Cube and another with an AAC shirt.

Jesse Jones Jr. is a 30-year-old professional basketball player and an Instagram icon with more than 2 million followers on his page, “Filayyyy.”

The apple didn’t fall far from the tree, as his dad, Jesse Jones Sr., also made a name for himself. Jones Sr., also known as Chef Jesse, owns a catering company, Chef Jesse Concepts. He’s served celebrity clientele, including Whoopi Goldberg, Sunny Hostin, Tyler Perry and John Legend. He has a cookbook memoir titled “POW! My Life in 40 Feasts.”

He was named Top Chef by Inside Jersey in 2014; and in 2010 he won the title of Ultimate Chef of Bergen County.

While Jones Sr. went the cooking route, his son Jesse was more into sports. Growing up in Irvington, the younger brother of two and living there for 20 years, in addition to sports, Jesse also liked to sing and dance.

“I saw where his charisma was starting to come,” Chef Jesse said. “Affectionate, kind-hearted … just great. Tristan [Jesse’s older brother] was the same, into music, kind-hearted. They played basketball together. Both are very talented.”

Jesse Jr. broke through narrating short sports videos with his distinctive voice, enthusiasm and sense of humor. Filayyyy is his trademark phrase, it’s short for filet mignon, and it’s used to describe something cool.

However, Chef Jesse warns, “the world is not easy” and that Jesse had his share of insecurities, challenges and difficulties as many teens do. For example, while playing basketball when he was younger, a head coach would place him in a lower level than what he should have been playing.

“He clowned around. He was a fun kid. He wanted to be with the ‘in crowd’… not a follower. Nobody believed in him, but he did well and got a scholarship to University of Bridgeport,” Chef Jesse said.

Chef Jesse has been with his son through thick and thin. “Keep your head up. Keep pushing,” he’d tell his son.

“I was right there with him,” Chef Jesse said. “His mom, too. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but a blessing.”

By persevering, Jesse ended up playing semi-pro basketball for the Titans in Canda, Indomables Juarez in Mexico and Homenetmen in Lebanon. He also has a contract with Nike doing voiceovers. Then his Instagram page took off more than he wanted. While he tries to juggle, he’s sticking to his dream of playing basketball.

“He balances life,” Chef Jesse said. “If you’re doing what you love, getting paid is a bonus. Some people get big-headed and weird; he’s just a humble person. I just got off the phone with him. Now to hear him talk, you’re in tears.”

Other than his father, Jesse is inspired by his mother, Annette. “She’s got his back,” Chef Jesse said.

Future goals for Jesse include having his own basketball camp and a travel tour going through different states, motivating children. And for fun, he loves to bowl, go to the beach and be around family.

“We don’t see him as much,” Chef Jesse said. “He’s a world traveler. We cherish him when we get him.”

To follow Jesse Jones, aka Filayyyy on Instagram, visit:

Jesse Jones Jr., left, and Jesse Jones Sr.