The basketball world has demonstrated quite the outpouring of support for Texas Longhorns guard Andrew Jones following the news of his leukemia diagnosis last week. That support’s included a fundraising website, where as of Wednesday night 1,376 people had donated $132,383 to support Jones and his family, and plenty of messages from players across the nation. And on Wednesday, a rival got in on the support, with the entire Texas Tech Red Raiders team donning warmup jerseys with Jones’ name and #1 on the back ahead of their road game against the Longhorns:
Stay strong, Andrew. Keep fighting. pic.twitter.com/sRdJZqZ77j
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) January 18, 2018
That’s a pretty cool move from the Red Raiders. The Longhorns also offered a tribute to Jones, wearing “Boom AJ1” warmups of their own:
Texas wearing warmups with “Boom AJ1” on them in support of Andrew Jones. pic.twitter.com/DsGOm6rWLv
— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) January 18, 2018
Texas won the game 67-58, but it was remarkable to see the two teams come together to honor Jones this way. And that’s only part of the support he’s receiving. Some more came Wednesday when Nick Paquette, a guard at Division III SUNY New Paltz who’s been battling leukemia for a year, shared an open letter with Jones through Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Eisenberg:
When I read about your diagnosis, Andrew, I couldn’t help but recall my own struggle. I thought about the shock and terror I felt when I learned I had leukemia, the frustration of not having the energy to get out of bed while in the hospital and the challenge of gradually working back into basketball shape once I came home.
Knowing that another 20-year-old college sophomore would be embarking on a similar journey made me want to help. I certainly don’t have a potential NBA career riding on my recovery like you do, nor do I even know if we have exactly the same type of leukemia or not, but I’d like to think my story can provide you strength, inspiration and above all else hope.
…When my mom stopped at Chipotle to get me something to eat on the way home from the hospital, I was so weak that I couldn’t walk from the car to the restaurant. My bones ached and my muscles were sore. I hardly had the strength to get out of bed the next couple weeks and I dropped 25 pounds.What reassured me even while I was bed-ridden was that my doctors were always optimistic I’d make a longterm recovery and be able to lead a normal life. They told me that I’d be able to return to school and perhaps even play high-level basketball again if my body felt up to it.
…We’re now more than halfway through our season, and I feel the best I have in two years. I have energy again. I can dunk again. I feel rejuvenated, fresh and ready to go.
…My prayers are with you, Andrew. I sincerely hope your fight against leukemia has the same outcome mine has. I hope you’re back on the floor starring for Texas next season and working to achieve your NBA dreams.
That’s cool to see as well, and Paquette’s story illustrates the challenges ahead for Jones, but also offers some hope. And the on-court tributes from both teams were another good step there. Jones has a lot of trials ahead, but he has a lot of support as well. And it’s neat to see that coming in even from rivals.