The Ballad of Andre Jones

Andre Jones played defensive tackle at Andress High School. The school’s coach had developed several NFL players. Jones was the best of them all, the coach said.

Andre Jones—maybe the best high school football player ever from El Paso—watched Vince Young lead Texas to the national championship. He then committed to Texas. Jones was 16.  

Andre Jones graduated high school a semester early. He then left El Paso, a place, his coach said, he desperate to leave. Jones was 17.

Andre Jones was a Parade All American when he arrived at Austin. His mother worried he was too young. “Who’s going to be watching over him?” she asked the Texas coaches. He’d have senior players as mentors, they answered. Jones’ mother said, OK, that’s fine.

Andre Jones was a week from turning 18. He and a teammate broke into an apartment, stole video games, cellphones, and money. Police say Jones had a gun and threatened to kill a 14-year-old at the apartment, who watched it all. Jones got charged with armed robbery.

Andre Jones lost his football scholarship. He never played a down for the Texas Longhorns. He felt alone. Jones felt anger when he had to return to El Paso.

Andre Jones was just 19 when he tried to play football again at UTEP. They still called him a phenom. But he never played a down for them. Jones moved to Stephenville and played a season at Tarleton State.

Andre Jones returned to El Paso in 2010. Two years later, police arrested him with 34 grams of crack cocaine. That case got dismissed. Two years after that, the day before Valentine’s Day, he proposed to his girlfriend. Jones’ girlfriend said yes.

Andre Jones died the next day—Valentine’s 2014. Police found him in a bed of a central El Paso hotel room. His face toward the sky. Jones had cocaine, hydrocodone, marijuana, and sedatives in his body, the autopsy report said.

Andre Jones’ death was ruled accidental. He had heart disease. He had a daughter and people who loved him. Jones was 24.