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One-Armed Girls Basketball Coach Inspires Students in Chicago

One-Armed Girls Basketball Coach Inspires Students in Chicago

By    |   Tuesday, 30 January 2018 12:41 PM

A one-armed girls' basketball coach wounded by a shotgun blast that resulted in he amputation of his left arm decades ago is drawing attention at Bowen High School in Chicago.

Coach Kennard Johnson has dedicated his life to the students at Bowen High School, teaching basketball and perseverance, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The Chicago Tribune noted how he spent two hours on the phone counselling senior captain Kayla Hearon through grief after she lost her 19-year-old brother in a shooting incident.

Johnson is always willing to dig into his own pocket to help his players out and has even given his shoes to a girl to wear when she forgot hers at home before a game.

"These kids basically have nothing, and sports keeps them active and away from the corner store or (gang) bangers at the park, so they come here and I give them all I can," he said per the Chicago Tribune.

Johnson would not be blamed for walking around bearing a grudge after losing his arm as a teenager but instead he has reached out to others in dire circumstances.

Speaking about his amputation, Johnson told the Chicago Tribune that it was a case of being "in the right place at the wrong time."

It was June 1978 and he encountered a man in a stairwell of the Parks Hotel, which his fathered owned. The man, who believed he had been robbed by a sex worker, fired a shotgun at Johnson, hitting him in the left arm.

After three weeks in a hospital Johnson was left with gangrene and doctors had to amputate

Over the next few years Johnson struggled to find a place where he belonged, often being ridiculed by other children.

Then he took up a position with Brooks College Prep in 1998, where he still works as a security supervisor when not coaching the Brooks girls' basketball team.

"Brooks' kids accepted me after they saw I could play ball, so I just started shooting and the ball kept going in, so I played full-court and jelled from there," he told the Chicago Tribune.

His story has inspired his athletes.

"I can't fit in anywhere else and don't feel right except here, in the gym, so Coach Johnson gets that and makes us all feel like we belong," player Kayla Hearon said, according to the Tribune. "He understands that basketball is our escape."

Johnson's positive attitude and passion for coaching resonates on his Facebook page, where he often shares updates and quotes.

"What a blessing for doing the right things for people in life," he said in a recent post. "I just love blessing others and see the smile on their face. Life is good and so is God! Enjoy life while you can!!!"

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Kennard Johnson, who lost his left arm after a shotgun blast in 1978, is inspiring students as the girls basketball coach at Bowen High School in Chicago.
one-armed, girls, basketball, coach
Tuesday, 30 January 2018 12:41 PM
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