"I'm starting to embrace being a cancer survivor.... If I can inspire you just to get up in the morning, and attempt to make your life better, then I've done my job."@DrewdotCash speaks out on his battle with cancer.— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) August 20, 2018
Here's his story. pic.twitter.com/nyOKV51gJ5
Jones began saying, “So, I started feeling sick kind of after we got back from Australia. We started getting to the season...I started to feel run down, started to feel heavy.”
The Texas men’s basketball team participated in a 12-day, four-game tour in Australia from Aug. 12-23.
While Jones was experiencing flu-like symptoms, he was still playing at a high level, averaging 15.3 points per game through the first seven regular season games. In the third-place game of the Nike PK80 tournament against Gonzaga, he hit a wild game-tying three-pointer to send the game into overtime.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME????? Texas ties it in the final seconds. OT coming. pic.twitter.com/UoVoCFttR4— Ezra Siegel (@SiegelEzra) November 26, 2017
Early in December, Jones injured his wrist against VCU and missed multiple weeks of action. When Jones returned from injury against Kansas on Dec. 29, it was clear his play looked more sluggish than before.
“He’s not playing right, he’s not breathing right.” his mother, Carli Seldon added. At first, his parents thought he had a viral infection, possibly a severe flu.
After a road game against Iowa State, where Jones was limited to 11 minutes of playing time, he decided it was time to do something as the feeling was only getting worse.
“I went and got blood work done, and the doctor told me it was leukemia.” Jones softly said. He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
The news was officially announced publicly on Jan. 10 and that was when the overwhelming support from the Texas family and others around the world flowed in.
“I didn’t think I was going to have as much support as I got. Professional athletes that I admire. DeShaun Watson...John Wall. Players that I know of, but now they’re knowing of me.” Jones even received a visit from ESPN color commentator and former coach, Jeff Van Gundy. After attending his basketball camp before last season, Chris Paul reached out and facetimed Jones. It all felt surreal to the 20-year-old.
But, the overwhelming support he needed the most came from his wonderful family. Andrew’s mother took off time from work to be with her son in the hospital and his father was right there with them the whole way. With his parents by his side, it brought the family closer together than ever. His sister would call him every single day, too.
“I think I fear the most is him not going to the NBA. I want you to be able to do everything you work hard for. And I believe he can but, that’s my fear. That’s what I want.” Andrew’s sister and professional WNBA player, Alexis added.
This wasn’t the first time the Jones’ family had to overcome adversity. Back in 2007, David Jones, Andrew’s father was paralyzed from his chest down after a car accident. It speaks volumes how strong one family can be through two incredibly difficult challenges like that in life.
Despite having IV’s running through him, taking multiple antibiotics and having to wear a protection mask, Jones started putting up shots on a basketball net in the hospital. Day by day he would shoot more and more, expanding his range as he regained his strength. Videos of him putting up shots surfaced the social media world, inspiring many others.
Andrew Jones was released from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston on Feb. 24. Right away, he started hitting the gym and continued to play the game he loves.
In March, Jones was up to 160 pounds, ten pounds heavier than he was after he was released. He started playing basketball with other professional athletes every day.
“I’m the only one with a PICC line through my arm and medicine going through me, and i’m competing.” Jones said.
As he continued to gain his weight back and get back to playing at a high level, he dunked for the first time in seven months.
While Andrew continues to work his way back to full strength for this upcoming season and push towards his dreams of being drafted and playing in the NBA, he remains humble about himself. He says, “I’m here by a blessing and the grace of God.”
Texas opens the season on Nov. 9 against Arkansas in the annual Armed Forces Classic game and considering how strong of person Andrew is, don’t be the slightest bit surprised if he’s ready by then.
You can watch a more complete version of ‘The Story of Survival’ from Alexis and Andrew Jones here.