It was 1995 when a five-year-old Travis Kelce met his lifelong best friend, Aric Jones, at the Cleveland Heights Recreation Center. Decades later, Jones, 32, says he’s “living out a childhood dream” with the NFL star and their closest friends from Cleveland Heights.

It was 1995 when a five-year-old Travis Kelce met his lifelong best friend, Aric Jones, at the Cleveland Heights Recreation Center. Decades later, Jones, 32, says he’s “living out a childhood dream” with the NFL star and their closest friends from Cleveland Heights.


It was 1995 when a five-year-old Travis Kelce met his lifelong best friend, Aric Jones, at the Cleveland Heights Recreation Center. Decades later, Jones, 32, says he’s “living out a childhood dream” with the NFL star and their closest friends from Cleveland Heights.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, the Homebred designer and life of the party in the Kelce family suite since 2016 explains how their Cleveland Heights friend group formed “a cohesive unit” to support Kelce’s success.

We were on the Mighty Mites Hockey team together. I was four, Trav was five, and he was the biggest and the best player on the team, and I was the smallest and the funniest player on the team,” Jones recalls.

Kelce, 34, and Jones, who Chiefs fans may recognize as a regular inside the Kelce family suite at Chiefs games, didn’t attend the same school in Cleveland Heights until high school, but the Ohio native says he and Kelce “essentially crossed paths in every single facet of life,” including through their families.

“Travis went to middle school and played rec league basketball with my older brother,” Jones explains. “When my brother was playing 5th grade travel league basketball, Travis was the 4th grader playing up on my brother’s team.”

“It was always Jason [Kelce] and my older brother, and then Travis and me, playing in sports camps together for years,” he says.

After playing hockey together for the Mighty Mites, Jones and Kelce, who was “always the biggest and most talented kid” on his teams, participated in the John Carroll Sports Camps.

“The camp counselors used to be afraid of Jason,” says Jones, “and my brother and Travis were always competing to be the best two players.”

Jones remembers recognizing Kelce’s athletic talent and work ethic early, even before high school.

“I’ll never forget it. Travis was in the 8th grade, I was in the 7th, and his school was coming to play my school. And that whole day of school, all the kids in the school were whispering like, ‘Travis is coming up here to play today,’ ” he recalls.

Jones continues, “And then when Travis was walking out of the visitor locker room, a group of kids from my middle school were waiting outside the locker room, literally screaming his name all the way out to the field.”

Kelce was “huge” while “nobody else was” at the time, Jones notes. “And I’ll never forget him and his signature walk down the hallway up to the field and a group of kids from the opposite school following him. And it was just like, ‘Man, this is different. This is different.’

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