Each and every week, the NFLPA announces an NFLPA Community MVP. A number of different Texans have won the award over the past few years and earlier this week, they were recognized again. Rookie cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. was named this week's NFLPA Community MVP.
Johnson is from Gary, Indiana, one of the most violent, crime-ridden cities in the country. If you don't know Lonnie's story, it's one filled with persistence, pain and perseverance. He made it out of Gary to get to junior college and then to Kentucky for his final two years as a collegian. Then, as we all know, he was drafted by the Texans in the second round in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Johnson has experienced Gary's violent and destructive nature in his life. He has seen multiple friends die in a variety of unfortunate ways. He knows losing young people in that city is an all too common way of life. So, when 14-year-old Curtis Walton Jr. passed away after drowning in his high school pool, Johnson stepped in. He volunteered to pay for Walton's funeral back in Gary.
"Growing up in Gary, I saw multiple friends die young due to gun violence. When I heard the news that a teen from Gary had passed away in a terrible accident, I felt motivated to help," Johnson said. "I know the heartbreak of losing someone all too well. I saw this as an opportunity to help my city that has shaped who I am today. At the end of the day, it's not about what you have accomplished; it's about what you've given back."
Johnson has not only given back to Gary, but has done so in Houston as well. He's already done work with Huddle Against Hunger and helped host 50 kids at an activity day at Emancipation Park.
In Johnson's name, the NFLPA will make a $10,000 contribution to the Gary Steelers Pop Warner Little Scholars. Furthermore, for every interception that Johnson has in 2019, a donation will be made to the same organization.
This is a tremendous way to start a career - congrats Lonnie!