Three years ago, Jonas Gray had one of the best games by a running back in NFL history, rushing for 201 yards and four touchdowns in a Patriots win over the Colts in November 2014, with his photo gracing the cover of that week's issue of Sports Illustrated.
On Wednesday, the same day the Patriots arrive in Tampa to play the Bucs on Thursday night, the 27-year-old former Notre Dame star was in Hillsborough County jail for failure to pay child support. After a "cash purge" of $7,924, Gray was released at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, 17 hours after turning himself in.
Gray's NFL story is a reminder of the fleeting nature of success -- his breakout game against the Colts is one of only nine in NFL history where a player rushed for at least 200 yards and scored at least four touchdowns. Jim Brown has two of the others, Barry Sanders has one, and the only other such game in the past decade came from the Bucs' Doug Martin in 2012.
But the following Friday after his big game, Gray was late for practice and was inactive for the Patriots' next game as a result; he played sparingly the rest of the season and was inactive again in the Super Bowl when the Patriots beat the Seahawks in February 2015. He was cut by the Patriots the next fall, playing for the Dolphins and Jaguars in the 2015 season, and has been out of the league since the final cuts in preseason 2016.
The petitioner in his paternity case is Kourtney Pina, 33, of Riverview, who had a child with Gray in Oct. 2015 and filed a paternity notice in May 2016. The case has progressed in the courts for the past 18 months, and while it's unknown how much child support was due, the court will hold someone in jail on a "cash purge" until a determined amount owed is paid in lieu of bond. Under threat of 30 days in jail, Gray paid the $7,924 and was released Wednesday morning.
A message left with Gray's attorney seeking comment was not immediately returned.
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