Andre Jones, a starting defensive end on Notre Dame's 1988 national championship team, often relived the moments of his own playing days with his son and shared the lessons that would someday help TJ become an important player for the Fighting Irish.
Father and son often dreamed of TJ also helping the Fighting Irish win a national championship, which TJ will have a chance to do when No. 1 Notre Dame plays No. 2 Alabama in Monday night's Discover BCS National Championship at Sun Life Stadium.
"I just miss the talks we had, whether it would be in the car or on the couch until 3 a.m., talking about what it would take for me to achieve my goals," TJ said.
Andre, who played at Notre Dame from 1987 to 1991 and was a seventh-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1991 NFL draft, was there to see his son sign a national letter of intent to play for the Irish after a standout career at Gainesville (Ga.) High School. Andre also was there when TJ started seven games for Notre Dame as a freshman in 2010.
But two months before TJ's sophomore season began in 2011, Andre died of a brain aneurysm at his home in Roswell, Ga. TJ's mother, Michele, had left the house to take his older brother to the airport. When Michele returned, she found Andre unresponsive in the bathroom. Andre was rushed to a hospital, where he died on June 22, 2011. He was 42.
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