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The wooden steps in the unfinished stairwell lead to a bedroom that doubles as a live-in shrine to Jets defensive end Marcus Dixon on the second floor of the two-story house at 1340 Harmony Rd. Nails, insulation and wires are exposed beneath a light fixture; the walls are painted a dark olive green. All visitors to the wide, well-lit space are greeted by a black “Pepperell High” mat.
“We don’t have the money to finish it yet,” says Peri Jones, who along with her husband Ken filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy last summer and moved in with their daughter, Heather, and her husband, Howard. “But it’s livable.”
The Joneses, a white family, adopted Dixon, an African-American boy from the bordering city of Rome, when he was 11 years old. The room serves as a reliquary to his time with them. On bookshelves, Dixon’s gap-tooth smile jumps out from glossy photos. In a closet hangs a collage of colors that illuminate his career’s span – black Pepperell varsity jacket, blue Hampton University jersey and green NFL Combine shirt. Over the king-size bed — sheets tucked in, covers dotted by pillows — stands the Jets’ 2010 team picture.