“Sling Shot” – Justin Johnson

“Sling Shot” was a grade school nickname that Justin Johnson had to quickly outgrow if he wanted to become a professional basketball player. Johnson was given the nickname by his 7th grade coach after he witnessed Johnson placing the ball behind his head and shooting. The coach couldn’t help but call him “Sling Shot” after that. The coach also told him, “Don’t think about making varsity if you keep shooting like that.” Needless to say, it was a cry for help. Instead of allowing the coach’s comment to discourage him, Johnson used his words as fuel to get better and practiced changing his jump shot. Hard work pays off; not only did he make varsity in high school but he also was never called “SlingShot” again.

Johnson was born and raised in Tyler, Texas and attended Tyler Junior College where he played basketball for two years. He then took his talents to Iowa University. There, during March Madness, Johnson hit eight three-pointers against Ohio State University. After his college career, Johnson played in the D. League for Sioux Falls Skyforce from 2008-2009. In the 2012 D. League Draft, he was selected in the 8th round as pick 15 by the Austin Toros. Currently, Johnson is completing his second year as a professional basketball player overseas in Japan.

During his first year in Japan, he experienced the huge earthquake and tsunami that occurred killing thousands of people. “One minute everything was fine and the next minute you felt the ground shaking. It stopped and then minutes later it continued again. The team manager rushed all the American players to the airport and got us to safety. All I remember is thinking about my teammates that couldn’t come with us and praying for them and their families,” stated Johnson. After having gone through that terrifying experience, he told himself he would never play basketball in Japan again but he found himself playing for his current team, the Fukuoka Rizing. Despite the team preparing for playoffs, I was able reach Johnson in Japan for an interview.

Vesti: Who introduced you to basketball and when did you first realize you had a love for the sport?

Johnson: My mom was the one that introduced me to basketball. It wasn’t until 7th grade when I changed my jump shot, that I realized I had a love for basketball.

Vesti: What was the hardest thing about being a college athlete vs. a professional athlete?

Johnson: In college the hardest thing for me was that your whole day was arranged by the coaches. We were barely able to have a life outside of basketball. The hardest thing with having basketball as a career is making sure you stay employed.

Vesti: What do you like to eat to fuel up for a game and what foods do you try and stay away from? As far as drinks are concerned, do you prefer Gatorade or Poweraid?

Johnson: I’m not really a big nutrition guy. I eat anything. When it comes to drinks, whichever is cheaper when I walk into the gas station is what I purchase.

Vesti: Lol, you’re funny, truthful but funny. If you could create a two-on-two basketball game against anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Johnson: It would be Kobe, Hakeem, and I vs. Lebron and Shaq.

Vesti: Yeah, you better add a third person on your team because y’all couldn’t win without him, lol. What are some of the things you do off the court for the community?

Johnson: Please, Kobe can beat both Lebron and Shaq with his eyes closed if he wanted to. Off the court, I help out at basketball camps. I also help high school students during the week on fundamental skills and reinsure that if you want to play basketball then you have to be committed to receiving an education as well.

Justin Johnson has also started his own blog which gets published in his hometown’s daily newspaper in Tyler, Texas. I had an amazing time interviewing Mr. Johnson. On the behalf of fyihouston, your fans, and family we wish you luck in the playoffs this month.

“I want to be remembered as a competitor in life that wants to get better as a

person everyday on earth, while also having a positive influence on family, friends, and strangers.” – Justin R. Johnson

VestiSports

by

Vestina Okeke“Sling Shot” was a grade school nickname that Justin Johnson had to quickly outgrow if he wanted to become a professional basketball player. Johnson was given the nickname by his 7th grade coach after he witnessed Johnson placing the ball behind his head and shooting. The coach couldn’t help but call him “Sling Shot” after that. The coach also told him, “Don’t think about making varsity if you keep shooting like that.” Needless to say, it was a cry for help. Instead of allowing the coach’s comment to discourage him, Johnson used his words as fuel to get better and practiced changing his jump shot. Hard work pays off; not only did he make varsity in high school but he also was never called “SlingShot” again.

Johnson was born and raised in Tyler, Texas and attended Tyler Junior College where he played basketball for two years. He then took his talents to Iowa University. There, during March Madness, Johnson hit eight three-pointers against Ohio State University. After his college career, Johnson played in the D. League for Sioux Falls Skyforce from 2008-2009. In the 2012 D. League Draft, he was selected in the 8th round as pick 15 by the Austin Toros. Currently, Johnson is completing his second year as a professional basketball player overseas in Japan.

During his first year in Japan, he experienced the huge earthquake and tsunami that occurred killing thousands of people. “One minute everything was fine and the next minute you felt the ground shaking. It stopped and then minutes later it continued again. The team manager rushed all the American players to the airport and got us to safety. All I remember is thinking about my teammates that couldn’t come with us and praying for them and their families,” stated Johnson. After having gone through that terrifying experience, he told himself he would never play basketball in Japan again but he found himself playing for his current team, the Fukuoka Rizing. Despite the team preparing for playoffs, I was able reach Johnson in Japan for an interview.

Vesti: Who introduced you to basketball and when did you first realize you had a love for the sport?

Johnson: My mom was the one that introduced me to basketball. It wasn’t until 7th grade when I changed my jump shot, that I realized I had a love for basketball.

Vesti: What was the hardest thing about being a college athlete vs. a professional athlete?

Johnson: In college the hardest thing for me was that your whole day was arranged by the coaches. We were barely able to have a life outside of basketball. The hardest thing with having basketball as a career is making sure you stay employed.

Vesti: What do you like to eat to fuel up for a game and what foods do you try and stay away from? As far as drinks are concerned, do you prefer Gatorade or Poweraid?

Johnson: I’m not really a big nutrition guy. I eat anything. When it comes to drinks, whichever is cheaper when I walk into the gas station is what I purchase.

Vesti: Lol, you’re funny, truthful but funny. If you could create a two-on-two basketball game against anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Johnson: It would be Kobe, Hakeem, and I vs. Lebron and Shaq.

Vesti: Yeah, you better add a third person on your team because y’all couldn’t win without him, lol. What are some of the things you do off the court for the community?

Johnson: Please, Kobe can beat both Lebron and Shaq with his eyes closed if he wanted to. Off the court, I help out at basketball camps. I also help high school students during the week on fundamental skills and reinsure that if you want to play basketball then you have to be committed to receiving an education as well.

Justin Johnson has also started his own blog which gets published in his hometown’s daily newspaper in Tyler, Texas. I had an amazing time interviewing Mr. Johnson. On the behalf of fyihouston, your fans, and family we wish you luck in the playoffs this month.

“I want to be remembered as a competitor in life that wants to get better as a

person everyday on earth, while also having a positive influence on family, friends, and strangers.” – Justin R. Johnson

VestiSports

by

Vestina Okeke

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