Mother of Andre Jones pleads for children to seek help and not die the way her son died

ABC-7 Speaks with the mother of Andre Jones

EL PASO, Texas - Too much, too soon.

That's what the mother of former Andress High School football star Andre Jones says about the life and death of her son.

Jones, 24, was found dead in a Central El Paso hotel room on Feb. 14. The medical examiner's office has not released a cause of death.

"I still remember one time being Downtown and I was drinking coffee with my sister and this gentleman - it was one newspaper where it's a full page of (Andre) - 'how are we ever going to win? look how big they come.' And he's telling me," Carmen O'Neal, Jone's mother said. "My sister's kicking me, saying, 'Tell him you're the mom.' I said, 'No, I don't want to make him feel bad."

At 6-foot-5, the teen was a coach's dream. Jones asked to play varsity at Andress when he was just a freshman.

The defensive end never looked back.

"He was too young," O'Neal said of her son. "He hurried in academics just to achieve that, to get out. And that was his downfall - going too young, going too fast. And people just didn't get what he did."

He received offers to play college football at dozens of universities around the country and chose to play for Texas and then-coach Mack Brown in 2007.

"I asked Mack Brown, 'What are you going to do to keep my 16 year old in the dorms when you have him with kids that are 18 years old and older and are able to go to clubs? And what's going to happen on Friday, Saturday when they all start hanging out and he has nowhere to go?'" O'neal said. "He promised me that him and the others were going to put him with ... one of the older football players to keep an eye on him, to watch him. I said, 'Ok.' I left trusting them."

Before his freshman season at Texas he was arrested on his 18th birthday and charged along with teammate Robert Joseph in a July 2007 robbery at an Austin apartment.

Jones was suspended from the football team and ended up pleading guilty in summer 2008 to aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony.

His mom says he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Andre accepted a plea deal when he was facing 25 years in prison.

The plea deal required him to serve 30 days in jail, do 340 hours of community service and 10 years of probation, according to an August 2008 Austin American-Statemsman report.

After leaving the Longhorns Jones enrolled at UTEP but never played a down for the Miners.

He went into a depression from which he never recovered.

Jones was arrested by El Paso Police on drug charges Aug. 17, 2012 for possession of crack cocaine with the intent to manufacture or distribute. He spent nearly nine months in jail but was released after prosecutors dismissed the case.

Less than a year after he was freed, his body was found in an El Paso Suites hotel room.

Death Of A Star

According to investigation reports obtained by ABC-7, officers arrived at the hotel after a 911 call was made from a pay phone outside of the Diamond Shamrock on Copia.

A police report states that Natasha Conway, 30, made the call and told police her friend was short of breath at the hotel.

Police stated that they were unable to locate Conway but learned she had checked into the hotel room the night before.

Police were led to the hotel room by Larry Condra, the hotel's manager.

The report states police found Jones "laying face up on top of the bed and not responding. Officer Lopez checked for a pulse but was met with negative results."

Police contacted Jones' girlfriend, Ruby Soto, 28.

Soto told police that Jones "had been using spice in the last week and would even call him to see how [Jones] was doing."

Soto also told police that two days before Jones died she found him passed out in his truck.

She told police she had to slap him on the face to wake him up.

According to the police report, Soto said she "knew he was on spice."

Soto told police "that she had been arguing with him lately because he kept doing drugs."

A Mother's Plea To Other Children

"They take that one trip. They think ... 'are they going to come back from that trip?' Because they call it a trip," O'neal said. "Well, my son didn't. I don't know what caused it. We don't know yet. All I ask is, whatever the reasons, he's passed away. It don't matter to me no more. The only thing that matters - I won't see my son tomorrow."

Crying, O'Neal asked children who might be doing drugs seek help before it's too late.

"And to parents, kids who are out there doing the same thing, I'm asking you, either seek help, talk to your parents, talk to your friends - get help. But don't end up like my son," O'Neal said. "Don't make your parents go through what I'm going through right now, OK? And that's what I have to tell these kids because this is not what I ever thought I would end up doing - burying my son because of this."

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