Relaxed and often flashing the smile that once graced magazines and Wheaties boxes, former Olympic track star Marion Jones reflected on her free fall from grace; the tumble from atop a pedestal that was, in part, built on performance-enhancing drugs and deceit.
In a small room inside the NBA Store in Manhattan on Tuesday, minutes before meeting the public to promote her book "On the Right Track," Jones sat calmly in a blue blouse and black pants with a black sweater draped. She was remorseful but unapologetic; humbled, though somewhat defiant.
There was contrition: "I made a mistake," said Jones, 35, who served six months in federal prison in 2008 for lying to investigators during the BALCO scandal. As well, she was stripped of five Olympic medals and her image was forever tarnished. "It's hard," she said. "I live with the fact that I disappointed so many people, so much."
Still, Jones, whose medal forfeiture included two from relays, said she feels no obligation to former teammates beyond the apologies she's already made "for making bad choices." To her critics, she insists she "didn't do a crime that would warrant an apology for the rest of my life."
And asked of the impact PEDs had on her athletic ascent, she said: "I've been blessed with an incredible gift from God. I think if I hadn't been given certain things, I would've still reached a certain level in my career."
Jones, now a mother of three, signed a contract last season with the WNBA's Tulsa Shock, hoping to revive her athletic career.
Looking back, though, she regrets the lies. Jones claims she was flustered during questioning and, in her panic, fibbed. Her message now is to "stop and think about what the right thing is."
"If you're doing right, continue to fight for the truth," she said. "If you're not, do what's right . . . I know the toll it takes on you if you're not upfront and forthright."