Jon Absey was born on December 28th, 1967. He is the son of Jim and Charlene Absey. Jon is a 1986 graduate of Sacred Heart and his five siblings – James, Roger, Casey, Lisa, and Lori – also attended high school at Sacred Heart.
Homecoming was Jon’s favorite time of year as he had free reign to climb on scaffolding (with the excuse of decorating) and dangle his body from the rafters. If the old gym still existed, you would definitely find his signature in multiple places on the ceiling. When Jon wasn’t dangling from the rafters, he was climbing the walls of the school. Sister Basil finally busted him when his foot inadvertently punched a hole in the sheet rock.
While at Sacred Heart, Jon participated in football, basketball, wrestling, and track. He earned multiple letters in each sport, but made the biggest impact on the football field as a 4-year letter winner. He was the recipient of the “Oil Can” award numerous times during his high school career. The award honored a player’s contributions to the team through their energy, enthusiasm, grittiness, and the ability to keep things loose. Former football coach, Phil Meyer, fondly remembers Jon as a free spirit, but lovable. He was always inclined to attempt another daring feat, which made him a perfect candidate to be the ball carrier in practice when the first-team defense needed work to “get it right.”
Shortly after his high school graduation, Jon entered the Army where he served for six years. He was a military artillery observer, also known as a forward observer, in Operation Desert Storm. Jon received four medals of commendation in service and he is more proud of those medals than any other award that he has won. Following his time in the Army, Jon was hired as the mascot for the Fargo Fever. His “training” in high school paid off as he was a very creative and daring mascot. Unfortunately, the Fever let him go after they witnessed his famous toboggan stunt as they were afraid of being liable for any injuries to himself or to fans.
In 1994, Jon got his first big break as the mascot of the NBA’s Utah Jazz. The team mascot is affectionately known as “Bear.” Due to the nature of his job, he has endured many injuries, such as torn ligaments, received numerous stitches, and undergone multiple surgeries. Throughout his career, Jon has accumulated many awards, among them being a member of the second class inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2006. Selected out of all of the mascots nationwide in all sports, he was voted as the “National Mascot of the Year” in 2015. Jon has also been honored as the recipient of the NBA’s “Mascot of the Year” award and the mascot leadership award.
Most importantly, Jon is passionate about helping out those members of the community that are less fortunate. He started two charities: the Bear Hug Foundation, which raises money for Christmas presents to give to the needy children in his community and the Anti-Bullying Coalition, which creates awareness about bullying and supplies resources to educators. Bear has appeared at over 5,000 charity events for over 400 charities all over the nation and has helped raise over $1 million to go toward those charities. These charities include the Ronald McDonald House, the Special Olympics, the United Way, and the community homeless shelter.
Multiple governors of Utah have honored “Bear” by naming a day after him in recognition of his countless hours of community and public service, as well as for his standing as an important citizen of Utah. Jon’s heart, more than his athletic prowess, has earned him an induction into the Sacred Heart Hall of Fame.