Loving son, father, partner, friend
Even as a child, Andrew was inquisitive and wise. He was loving, compassionate and cared deeply about people. As he grew, he was the person who friends sought for advice, support and help, and he was always there to help them through tough times.
Andrew was a huge sports fan, especially for basketball. He knew every nuance of the game and became an exceptional basketball player, competing through high school and college. Focused on his ambition to work with youth, he coached kids in improving their skills and taught the importance of discipline and teamwork. He also made instructional videos to help them improve their skills.
Andrew went to college, where he met the love of his life, Frances, while earning a BA in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Sport Management and Leadership. He started a consulting business IYG – Improve Your Game, providing specialized services to help people achieve their business goals. Andrew and Frances had two children, Synai, now 13, and Lein, 10. The children were the highlight of their life and what brought Andrew the greatest joy. “Andrew’s goal was to grow his business, marry his one love and be there for his children,” his mother, Lillian stated.
Andrew earned the name “Honest John” from his aunt after a childhood incident where his mischievous cousins fabricated stories to get something they wanted, while Andrew told the truth. He lived up to that name until “his disease stole it from him,” his mother said. As his illness hijacked his brain, he became irresponsible and erratic, nothing like the Andrew everyone knew. When these serious and obvious changes were happening, he told his parents that he needed help.
Through Andrew’s time in and out of treatment centers, the family educated themselves about addiction and did everything possible to help him. He was sober for eight months when he relapsed, unknowingly got drugs laced with fentanyl and died. “This disease does not discriminate and affects more than the person with the illness,” his mother said, “family, friends and community who love the person are all deeply scarred by it.”
Lillian feels blessed to have had Andrew for 32 years. “I have some really tough days, but less of them. I smile more than cry at the thought of him now. Andrew’s life was a blessing and I am grateful that God chose me to be his mother.” She wants to help others who have the disease and their families, and educate others to help end the stigma. “I have already lived through the apocalypse,” she said. I choose to live in the love and light of Andrew’s memory rather than in the sadness of his death. I believe that this life is not all there is and that I will see my Andrew again in all his glory.”
Andrew’s mother, Lillian Hightower, provided the information for this narrative.
April 19, 1985-March 5, 2017
Age 31-Lived with the disease of addiction 12 years