Dr James Rheuben Andrews (born May 2, 1942 in Homer, Lousiana) is a world renowned orthopaedic surgeon, specializing in sports medicine, arthroscopy and reconstruction of the shoulder, hip, knee and elbow.
Andrews grew up in Louisiana, son of a football and track coach. He was a Southeastern Conference-champion pole-vaulter at Louisiana State University in 1963. He gave up competition after his father died of lung cancer during his sophomore year so that he could complete his degree faster. He completed his medical degree at the LSU School of Medicine in 1967 and a residency in orthopaedic medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans in 1972. He went on to complete surgical felloweships with Frank McCue III at the University of Virginia Medical School, with Albert Trillat at the University of Lyon in France, and with pioneering sports physician Jack Hughston in Columbus, Georgia. He joined Hughston's clinic full time in 1973.
Hughston's specialty was knee and leg surgeries, so he sent many patients with arm and shoulder injuries to Andrews, who was learning about the use of arthroscopy from Lanny Johnson in Lansing, Michigan. Andrews contributed to major advances in the use of arthroscopy in shoulders and, later, elbows. He also traveled to California to learn from Frank Jobe who successfully reconstructed a ligament in the elbow of pitcher Tommy John (a procedure commonly known as "Tommy John surgery" now). Andrews has since performed the operation over 3,000 times.
Andrews and a fellow doctor in Hughston's practice formed a partnership to purchase the AA Columbus Astros baseball team, for which he was already team physician. His growing reputation in operating on baseball players, especially pitchers, led to a successful procedure on a young Roger Clemens in 1985.
Shortly after, Andrews and Larry Lemak founded the Alabama Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center (ASMOC) at HealthSouth Medical Center in Birmingham. Under his agreement with HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, any Alabama athlete would have their injuries cared for at the center, even without insurance coverage. They recruited surgeons Kevin Wilk and Bill Clancy to the practice, which quickly became a premiere destination for world-class athletes needing medical attention.
He successfully repaired a torn rotator cuff for Huntsville native Jimmy Key, marking the first time a pitcher had come back from that particular injury. He also operated on Al Leiter in 1992. Leiter worried that his career was over, but was able to return to the game and play in the Major Leagues through 2005. Two of his patients, Kenny Rogers and David Wells, went on to throw perfect games.
Andrews assisted with the hip-replacement surgery for two-sport athlete Bo Jackson in 1991. He has also performed operations on Jack Nicklaus, John Smoltz, Chad Pennington, Drew Brees, Chris Webber, Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Jennifer Capriati, Andre the Giant, Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan. In 2005 the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated that the ASMOC generated about $15 million in economic impact each year for the area.
Andrews and Lemak later established the non-profit American Sports Medicine Institute to promote research and sports injury prevention. In 2003 HealthSouth's future was cast in doubt by a major accounting scandal. In May 2005 Andrews and Lemak moved their practice to a new facility at St Vincent's Hospital.
In 2006 Andrews had a major heart attack and underwent emergency quadruple bypass surgery performed by John Richardson. He held patient consultations with Jeff Bagwell and Drew Brees from his bed at St Vincent's intensive care unit.
In February 2007, Andrews and Lemak announced that they were severing their partnership amicably. He and two proteges, Jeff Dugas and Lyle Cain remained at St Vincent's under the re-named Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center while Lemak opened a new practice at Brookwood Hospital with his son, David. St Vincent's began construction of a new 155,000 square foot OrthoSports Center to house Andrews' practice. The building was dedicated in October 2008.
In May 2007 Andrews launched an Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Florida - a 140,000 square-foot clinic, research center and training institute which he visits every Friday while maintaining his Birmingham practice. He has also served on the medical faculties of UAB, the University of Virginia, the University of Kentucky and the University of South Carolina.
Andrews was named a "Distinguished Sportsman" by the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 and into the Louisiana Hall of Fame in 2008. He has served on numerous national boards including the directorships with the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, the Arthroscopy Association of North America and the International Knee Society. He served on sports medicine committees for the United States Olympic Committee , the NCAA's committee on competitive safeguards in medical aspects of sports, and the medical and safety advisory committee of USA Baseball. He has held the title of medical director or orthopedic consultant for numerous amateur and college sports organizations including the Alabama Crimson Tide, Auburn Tigers, Birmingham Barons, Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Ladies Professional Golf Association.
Andrews and his wife Jenelle have six children (Andy, Amy, Archie, Ashley, Amber and Abby) and three grandchildren. Among his hobbies he counts yachting. His 50-foot sloop Abracadabra III (named for his association with the Magic City) won several championships in the Southern Ocean Racing Conference in the mid 1990s and was a brief contender in the 2000 America's Cup race under the banner of the Aloha Racing Foundation of Honolulu, Hawaii.
- Helyar, John (September 20, 2007) "Dr. James Andrews still works on the cutting edge" ESPN.com - accessed May 27, 2008
- Browne, Ian (May 27, 2008) "Andrews a pivotal force in health of game." MLB.com - accessed May 27, 2008
- Velasco, Anna (February 13, 2007) "Andrews, Lemak to split." Birmingham News