Portage native competing in Rio Olympics

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PORTAGE, Mich. — Lawrence Evans said he knew his son Andrew was something special while he was still in diapers. He remembers one time, before Andrew could even walk, he stacked a couple of pans together, stood on top of them and busted the child safety lock on a cupboard “like it was nothing.”

That kid grew up to be 6 ft 4 in as a freshman at Portage Northern High School. Now, he’s getting ready to compete in the Olympics, throwing the discus for Team USA.

“Words almost don’t describe it,” said Lawrence fighting back tears. “He’s worked so hard his whole life to this one point.”

Andrew qualified for the Olympics in early July. However he fell in love with throwing discus years ago as a middle-schooler. Lawrence said Andrew took to it quickly and has excelled in it ever since.

“He took off right away,” said his sister Rachel, proudly wearing one of his medals around her neck. “He started that career with a punch at nationals as an 8th grader and it just went up from there.”

Andrew played several sports in high school, Rachel said. He played hockey and football and was even recruited to play tight end at the University of Michigan. But his heart was in track & field.

“If it was winter time, he’d come in the dog house building and he would want to play shot put with his buddy,” said track & field varsity coach Ahren Kaylor. “Most kids want to play football or shoot a basketball. That was his work ethic and determination.”

Kaylor said Andrew, who he dubbed “Man-drew” in high school because of his height, had such a strong work ethic that it led him to nationals a few times. He was crowned state champ twice and was named a All-American. He went on to take the Southeastern Conference title while at Kentucky and has spent the last two years training for the Olympics in California.

“Last week I texted him a few times, he doesn’t text back,” said Kaylor. “He is in his mode of 'focus' and just 'leave me alone, I’ll-talk-to-you-when-it’s-done' attitude right now.”

Andrew landed in Rio Tuesday, his dad said. According to Rachel, he went through Olympic processing. with Venus and Serena Williams, and received the Ralph Lauren outfit he’s going to wear Friday night during the opening ceremony.

“He’s incredibly hungry and he’s incredibly humbled,” said Rachel. “This came from years and years of spending Sundays and Saturdays throwing on his own time and never really looking for credit for what he’s doing.”

Andrew's first competition is on the 12th and his parents are flying out a few days prior to be there. They’re hosting a watch party Friday night at Old Burdick’s in downtown Kalamazoo and the public’s invited to join them.

“I think he’s going to give a good effort,” said Lawrence about his son. “When Andrew’s on, he’s literally unstoppable.”

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