WHO: University of Texas men’s basketball guard Andrew Jones.
WHAT: A triumphant return to the court.
WHY IT’S SO GREAT: Nearly two years ago, Andrew Jones’s NBA ambitions were derailed: the six-foot-four guard, who came to the University of Texas as a five-star recruit and averaged 13.5 points per game in his sophomore season, began missing games with an unknown illness. Then, in January 2018, he was officially diagnosed with leukemia.
Jones immediately began treatment, and quickly began dunking on cancer. The athlete took to social media to show how well he was responding to chemotherapy, sharing videos less than six months later of himself back on the court and declaring himself, reasonably, to be superhuman.
I’m not human https://t.co/2zat80l2bf
— Andrew Jones (@DrewdotCash) July 24, 2018
Still, cancer is a big question mark, and getting back to college ball form after treatment is a long process. Even after Jones began posting videos documenting his progress, the team was cautious about raising expectations for his return. He made brief appearances in the 2018-2019 year, logging fewer than six minutes total on the court.
Last night, though, marked a major milestone for Jones. Before the game, Smart told reporters that he expected to see a lot of Jones in the matchup against Northern Colorado. And he did, spending 29 minutes on the court and scoring twenty points—his career best—over the course of the game. “I’m happy for Andrew,” head coach Shaka Smart said after the game. “I’m happy for his family. Sometimes in life, when you are dealt a tough hand, it’s really about how you respond…He played with an aggressive, confident and loose mindset.”
Showing up the way that he did on the court tells us that Jones is the kind of athlete who’s more than a heartfelt story. But if he’s also that, he seems to be comfortable with it. In a short documentary produced by The Players’ Tribune last August, Jones discussed being part of a community of cancer survivors, and what that means to him too. “I’m starting to embrace being a cancer survivor,” Jones said. “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, I feel good. I’ve faced death twice, and I’m here by the grace of God.”
"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.
Here's his story. pic.twitter.com/nyOKV51gJ5
— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) August 20, 2018