Born in Starkville, Mississippi, Hayes Jones was quite short for a hurdler (only 5 feet and 10 inches), but his outstanding speed, great start, and nearly perfect technique won him many championship titles.
Jones burst onto the international athletics scene by winning the 120 yd (110 m) hurdles in 1958 AAU championships. He won four more AAU titles: 1960 and 1964 in 110 m hurdles and 1961 and 1963 in 120 yd (110 m) hurdles.
A year later, at the Rome Olympics he was third behind teammates Lee Calhoun and Willie May, after which many observers believed he had reached his peak performance. But he returned to the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where he won the gold medal and his teammate Blaine Lindgren won the silver. Jones also ran on a 4 × 100 m relay team that set a world record in 1961.
From January 2005 through March 2006, Jones served as the director of the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs.
In 2006 he left Oakland County to run for State Representative in Pontiac, Michigan to finish the term vacated by newly elected Pontiac Mayor Clarence Phillips and to win a full two-year term starting in January, 2007. Jones was on the primary ballot twice; the first to finish the term left vacant by Phillips, and second, to be the Democratic candidate for the full two-year term in the general election. Oddly Jones won the right to be the Democratic candidate for the remainder of the two months left on Phillips' term while Tim Melton will be the Democratic candidate for the full two-year term.