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Family of Champions: Johnson family makes victory a family affair

Diane Xavier | 4/3/2014, 5:14 p.m.
For Goree Johnson, Dallas ISD assistant athletic director, the basketball court is his family’s sanctuary. Goree, representing District 9-5A, a ...
Three generations of Johnsons pose with championship trophies. From left: LaDonna Johnson, Roderick’s wife; Roderick Johnson; Roderick Johnson Jr.; Royce Johnson and his wife Kendra Johnson, Rodney Johnson, the youngest brother; Goree Johnson and his wife Diane Johnson standing in front of him; Alicia Johnson, the only sister; Brittney Johnson, Alicia’s daughter. In front: David and Kinsey Johnson, Royce and Kendra’s children. Diane Xavier

Roderick said what made his team special was being able to overcome several obstacles.

“This season, being my first season as head coach, I think I have just seen about everything,” he said. “It was obviously a challenge for the guys, coming back after being the defending state champions and they had that pressure going on and right before the season we lost one of our teammates. He got killed at a shooting in Glenn Heights. So we had to deal with that and we had couple of starters get injured for the year. So we had to make adjustments to that and we had another student transfer. So we had a whole lot of things just dealing with our personnel and with our kids so we had to re-gel and get our chemistry together. But I think the kids did a great job of staying focused. I thought our young men did a great job staying focused because they get pulled in all different ways but our guys did a great job dealing with that.”

For Royce, it was all about focus for his Kimball squad.

“We pull for each other and we challenge each other to try to be great, try to be better than the other person,” Royce said. “When he won, I didn’t get a chance to be there but I went to the hotel and I saw the focus on my brother’s face and I was like Roderick was going to run through a wall. He’s got that same fire. I didn’t get a chance to watch him but he came over to the bench when it was my team’s turn to play and right before the game started he said it’s your time. I knew we couldn’t come up short and I’m glad my players saw that too. It was great.”

Roderick Jr. said his plans are to attend college and play basketball. Currently, he is being recruited by Cedar Valley and Mountain View Colleges.

“And I want to use basketball to get my education and further my education,” he said. “It was great to be able to play for my dad and go all the way to the state title game. I feel very blessed because I know a lot of kids aren’t able to experience that not only to win a state championship but be able to win it with your dad and uncle. Not a lot of kids get to do that and I just feel blessed. I know I am blessed.”

LaDonna Johnson, mother of Roderick Jr. and wife of coach Roderick, talked about the sacrifices it takes for her family to be able to see them win as champions.

“It’s a lot of prayer and it’s difficult some days. The transition was difficult but we have been married for 20 years so we have a lot of time to work through difficult situations and just having being able to witness my son being so happy and my husband be so happy and all of them enjoying the time being together celebrating was very profound and paramount it was a beautiful experience. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s just a lot of work and a lot of prayer and a lot of dedication.”