Dr. James Andrews was born May 2nd, 1942 in the small town of Homer, Louisiana. After graduating from high school, he attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he earned his undergraduate and medical degrees. While attending Louisiana State University, Andrews was a track and field athlete, competing in pole vaulting events. During his junior year, Andrews won a Southeastern Conference Championship in pole vaulting, with a jump of 15’ 1 ½”.
Andrews’ passion for sports and medicine came from two important male influences in his life. His father, Rhueben, coached not only football but also track and field in Homer, Louisiana, and instilled in him a love for sports. Andrew’s grandfather was James Nolen and was known as a healer in his time, distributing different balms and remedies to those who needed or requested them.
After graduating from Louisiana State University, Andrews completed his residency at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. Once he completed his residency, he went on to complete fellowships at both the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the University of Lyon in Lyon, France. In 1973 he began working with Dr. Jack Hughston in Columbus, Georgia, who is notable for being one of the founding fathers of modern sports medicine.
Andrews decided to specialize in orthopedics because he aspired to become the doctor for a sports team. Primarily, he has performed surgeries on the shoulder, elbow, and knee joints, and specializes in the repair of injured and damaged ligaments. The beginning of Andrews’ rise to sports medicine fame arrived on a day in 1986 when Roger Clemens’s agent contacted Andrews for a second opinion about Clemens, who had been having shoulder pains. Clemens’s fastball had been losing speed, and it was only his second year playing for the Red Sox. Andrews had been working with and treating players in the minor leagues in the area and had been using innovative techniques and state-of-the-art equipment.
When Clemens arrived, Andrews treated him with minor arthroscopic surgery. This surgery was cutting-edge and revolutionary to the sports medicine of the time. Andrews continued to treat Clemens and led him through his rehabilitation. Andrews also spent time educating Clemens on special exercises to help to build and maintain the strength of his shoulder muscles. After a few short months, Clemens went on to set a record of 20 strikeouts against the Seattle Mariners.
This one moment cemented Andrews’s abilities in sports medicine, and soon word got out that Dr. James Andrews was the man to see. Clemens’s word-of-mouth campaign led many more to Andrews’s door, and shortly after this, Andrews began helping some of the biggest names in sports. More than just baseball players sought Dr. Andrews’s care — he saw golf, football, and basketball stars too. Names like Bo Jackson, Charles Barkley, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Jack Nicklaus, Emmitt Smith, Michael Jordan, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, and Adrian Peterson traveled to see the famous Dr. Andrews.
Late in the 1980s, Andrews left the City of Columbus, Georgia, and began his own practice in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1996, he co-founded the American Sports Medicine Institute with Dr. Lawrence Lemak, another doctor who specialized in orthopedic medicine and surgery. In 2005, Andrews created a new practice after working with Lemak. This was called the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center.
NFL players of all teams receive treatment from Andrews at his clinic in Alabama, and even during a health scare in 2005, Andrews answered his phone when another injury call came through. He prides himself on being accessible at all times. He always returns calls, preferring a phone conversation to email.
Not only is Andrews’s name second to none in sports medicine, but he also loves sports, spending time getting to know the athletes who step into his clinic and helping them to continue performing at their best. His focus on athlete-centered care has kept him notable in his field.
The American Sports Medicine Institute, which was co-founded by Andrews in 1986 is a non-profit organization. Its mission is to learn more about sports-related injuries in order to better understand them, prevent them, and treat them. The Institute commits itself to education based on technology, research, and the circulation of the information they find.
Now in his 80th year, James Andrews resides, and still practices, in Gulf Breeze, Florida with his wife of many years, Janelle. Throughout his career, Andrews has changed all of sports medicine, and pioneered the practice of arthroscopic surgery, which uses a minimally invasive technique to operate on the joint. Andrews continues to practice to this day, a pioneer in the orthopedic medicine field, performing up to 50 surgeries per week.
Andrews is currently the team doctor for the Tampa Bay Rays, the Washington Commanders, and the Auburn Tigers.
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