In April of 2021, Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones lost his father and his hero, Alvin Jones Sr., to complications from COVID-19. Dealing with immense grief, Jones kept his father close to him by wearing his ashes in a football-shaped pendant necklace. He lost the necklace during a touchdown play, but—by some miracle—a Packers’ trainer ultimately found the pendant the same night after the game in the endzone.
Following this, Jones, also a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award nominee, realized that he wanted to find a more meaningful and celebratory way to commemorate his father. Jones plans to turn his father’s ashes into a diamond with Eterneva, a company that turns ashes into lab-grown diamonds. It’s one of many ways he intends to honor his father. He has also invested in the brand.
Jones recently shared more with Fortune about his journey with grief following his father’s passing from COVID last year and his subsequent investment in the ashes-to-diamond memorial brand Eterneva.
- Startup: Eterneva
- Location: Austin, Texas
- Year Founded: 2017
- Valuation: Declined to disclose
- Investment Level: Series A, $10 Million, led by Tiger Management
- Number of employees: 32
- Other major investors: Mark Cuban, Goodwater Capital, Capstar Ventures, NextCoast Ventures, Founder Collective, Springdale Ventures
Why he invested, in his own words
My father, Alvin Jones, was the greatest man I ever met. It wasn’t just because he was a great dad to me and my four siblings, which he was, but he managed to make a massive impact everywhere he went. He served this country through 28 years in the Army with tours of duty in Iraq, Kuwait, Hungary, Egypt, Germany, and South Korea. And he was a pillar of the El Paso community, where he coached youth sports and organized bike drives, turkey drives, and even shoe drives for those in need. When he passed away last year from COVID complications, he left a massive void. My heart was torn in a million pieces. It still is.
When I turned pro, my father traveled to watch nearly all of my games. Now that he’s gone, I try to keep this tradition alive. I decided to keep his ashes inside a pendant that I wear during games to keep him close to my heart. But I nearly lost that pendant a few months ago in the endzone during a play, so I started to look for other ways to keep him with me. When I heard about Eterneva, I knew I had to learn more.
Eterneva is a company that turns ashes or hair into lab grown diamonds. I met up with co-founder Adelle Archer, who explained to me that Eterneva does more than create diamonds; they create an entire experience to remember and celebrate your loved one. It takes nine months to make an Eterneva diamond and every step is documented with videos and photographs. I knew after this meeting that it was a journey I wanted to go on.
A diamond is full of brightness and light, and that’s how I’ll always remember my dad. I think a lot of other people would consider doing this if they knew about it, which is why I decided to invest. I’m going to miss my dad for the rest of my life, but this diamond is how I choose to carry him forward and keep him close to me.
This is an installment of Why I Invested, a series featuring famous investors from all different backgrounds and industries, revealing what inspired them to invest their own money in a new business.