The road to fame
(page 8 of 14)
At one point in his life, Frank Abagnale cashed $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in every state and more than 20 countries. The 2002 film “Catch Me If You Can” chronicles Abagnale’s early life, during which he posed as an airline pilot, attorney and doctor. At the movie’s end, director Steven Spielberg updated audiences about what Abagnale was doing decades later: living a quiet life with his family in a Midwest city while helping the FBI combat the same crimes he once committed.
What movie-goers weren’t told was the name of that city — Tulsa.
The update was purposefully vague because Abagnale wanted to remain under the radar while he raised his three sons in Tulsa.
In fact, privacy is why the Abagnale family moved to the area from Houston.
“It was hard to keep a low profile in a big city,” says Abagnale, who regularly works with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and gives speeches and seminars to organizations, associations and financial institutions, as well as owns his own consulting company based in Washington, D.C.
“I decided when I moved to Tulsa that since my children were getting older … I wasn’t going to do any public speaking in Oklahoma and I was going to try to be very private for the sake of my children,” he says.
He remained in that role in Tulsa — living in the same house for 25 years — while his three sons attended Monte Cassino School and Bishop Kelley High School.
When his children eventually left Tulsa for college and careers, his wife, Kelly, suggested that the two of them move to Charleston, S.C. Abagnale agreed, packing up his life and belongings and heading east. But a few days after the move, he told Kelly he needed to return to his home in Tulsa.
They returned for a period before moving back for good to Charleston, where they currently reside. Abagnale says Charleston is a great city, but Tulsa will always be home.
“I was a kid who ran away from home,” says Abagnale, 63. “I ran from the police for five years, spent five years in prison. That was my real home in Tulsa.”
Born and bred in Tulsa, Felix Jones was a football star at Booker T. Washington High School before playing tailback for the Arkansas Razorbacks, where he was the first U of A freshman in history to earn first-team All-American honors in 2005.
Drafted in 2008 as a running back by the Dallas Cowboys and wearing No. 28, he has earned the nickname Felix “The Cat” Jones for his quick movements and speed.
Amid his success, the 24-year-old hasn’t forgotten his roots, holding the annual MVP Charities Weekend in Tulsa. The event has raised tens of thousands of dollars to benefit inner-city youth through Jones’ Running Back to Make a Difference Foundation. The weekend’s activities include a round of celebrity golf, the Felix Jones Football Academy, the ACT & College Preparatory Program and the Blue Tie Gala.
Jones, in a recent interview with TulsaPeople, said the inspiration for the MVP Charities Weekend comes from “realizing how important it is to give back, along with providing an opportunity to share my blessings with youth back in my own community.”