Family of Andrew Toles, homeless ex-Dodgers outfielder, reveals heartbreaking story of mental illness

 

The baseball community was shocked last week when news broke that Andrew Toles, recently a popular outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, had been arrested and jailed in Key West, Florida, after being found sleeping behind an airport. Toles, who had been with the Dodgers as recently as 2018, was homeless and had only a black backpack in his possession.

Since then there has been an outpouring of support for Toles, especially from some of his former Dodgers teammates. But in an interview with USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Toles’ family revealed that support isn’t the issue — it’s that Toles has been suffering from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, which has led him to consistently resist help and run from city to city. Unless he’s been arrested, his family rarely knows where he is, or if he’s even alive.

Toles got help, but deteriorated

Morgan Toles, Andrew’s sister, told USA Today that while her brother has a history of erratic behavior that sometimes affected his baseball career, the real trouble didn’t start until about 18 months ago. Following the end of the 2018 baseball season, Toles’ family placed him in a mental health facility. He left after two weeks, and since then he’s been in and out of 20 different mental health facilities.

Toles’ mother reached out to the Dodgers for help in February 2019 after Toles crashed his car in Phoenix and was found wandering around the desert, disoriented and dehydrated. The Dodgers didn’t hesitate, which led to Toles’ longest stint in a mental health facility. He was released and continued to be carefully supervised, and his family believed he was making real progress.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last. It’s unclear if Toles stopped taking his medication or if it simply stopped working, but after a few months in Phoenix, he demanded to come home to Atlanta. His uncle and father, former New Orleans Saints linebacker Alvin Toles, came to Phoenix to drive him home, but Toles refused to go with them. He ran from them and stayed out of contact.

Los Angeles Dodgers' Andrew Toles prepares to bat against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, April 22, 2017, in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks defeated the Dodgers 11-5. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Toles’ family seeks guardianship, but feels relieved

Morgan Toles told USA Today that the help they really need is guardianship over Toles. Without it, she believes that the cycle they’ve been through will keep happening. Toles will be arrested, and either sent to a mental health facility or his family will place him there. He’ll stay a short time, taking medication that clears his head, and then request his release. Since they have no authority to force him to stay, he’s released, and with his baseball earnings (over $1 million) he can travel pretty much anywhere.

Without guardianship, Morgan believes the cycle will continue, since Toles has continually resisted help and run from the people who love him. Without it, they can’t force him to stay in a mental health facility, take his medication, or live close his family in Atlanta.

Toles’ family is constantly concerned for his welfare, but recent events have brought them a tiny bit of relief. They originally elected to keep Toles’ condition a secret from everyone but the Dodgers, but now that the world knows about it, Andrew’s father Alvin is relieved that it’s no longer something they have to hide.

“You cry every day, you pray every day,’’ says Alvin Toles, Andrew’s father, a former linebacker for the New Orleans Saints. “It’s a relief that you know he’s alive. And now there’s no need to hide anything. Everyone now knows he has a mental illness.

“Maybe this is how God meant for this to end. Now people know. People are reaching out and asking how to help.

“We just need to find him. We need to bring him home. But he keeps running. He’s in this state of paranoia. He’s running from people. He just keeps running like someone is after him.

“He really needs help before it’s too late.’’

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