'My safety was at risk': Local professional basketball player flees Ukraine

Posted at 10:40 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 15:07:55-04

(WXYZ) — After the Joe Biden administration urged Americans in Ukraine to leave the country, a former Mercy High School and Oakland University basketball player is safe in Finland.

"Let's just say I've been able to sleep a little better," Taylor Jones told 7 Action News after leaving Ukraine.

Jones was playing professionally in Ukraine and living in the port city of Berdyansk in southeast Ukraine. She planned to leave Monday but went to the airport on Sunday in hopes of getting on an earlier flight to Finland.

"Luckily, somebody didn't show up for their flight, so they charged to move my flight up an extra day. They charged me a lot of money, but in the end, it was worth it because at that point, my safety was at risk," Jones said.

The season in Ukraine is scheduled to run until April, but Jones said she received direction from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine followed by three urgent calls from the state department and family to get out.

“I got numerous phone calls from my parents, my siblings, family and friends,” Jones said. Teachers, previous basketball coaches, everybody was pretty much concerned about my safety because they all know I was here playing in Ukraine."

Jones said she's worried about what could happen in Ukraine.

"I don't think it will end well and it breaks my heart knowing that I have good friends there and people who I genuinely grew relationships with. I'm worried about them as well as their families," she said.