Johnson overcomes adversity, returns to basketball

WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — It has a roller coaster couple of years for northern Virginia native, and current redshirt-freshman for George Washington men’s basketball.

“I was 19, finishing up my senior year at Episcopal High School, and I was starting to get a weird tightness in my leg,” said Garrett Johnson. “So, we had to go get an MRI and see what was going on, and I found out I had a large mass in my hip.”

Garrett was about to start his college career at Princeton. However, before stepping on the court, Garrett had to step away from basketball due to a tumor in his hip.

“It was tough for a long time,” said Garrett Johnson. “Kind of like wrapping your head around the fact of what you are going through. I remember a lot times thinking like why is it me going through this. My life kind of got put on hold for a couple years. It was definitely a process of getting through it and trying to wrap my head around what was going on.”

Four surgeries and 9 rounds of chemotherapy. A battle not only with his body, but with his mind. Doing everything he could to hopefully one day, get back to healthy life, and get back on the basketball court.

“I didn’t want my life to be over at that time,” said Garrett. “For me, it was all about just staying in the gym and keeping that hope that it was going to get better. “

“There were many days of doubt, but we never gave up on the promise,” said Garrett’s father, J.J. Johnson.

“He quickly went from child to man,” said Garrett’s mother, Shubha. “There were a lot of down times where things didn’t work out or there were ancillary issues to procedures and stuff like that, and he picked himself up every single time and started all over again. Training, whatever it took to just keep his mind in that zone of I’m going to play one day. “

That day finally came for Garrett. On November 6th, he started for George Washington in their season opener, scoring a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds, and being named Atlantic-10 conference rookie of the week.

“It was just everything,” said Shubha. “I think J.J. and I kept looking at each other and just smiling. It’s like a fairy book ending. It was a horrible tale and it worked out.”

Two and a half years of putting his life on pause. Two and a half years fighting. Now, Garrett Johnson’s story stands for more than he could imagine.

“For me, I think the coolest part of it all is just being able to see the messages from people who are going through something similar to what I went through or something worse, and being able to be some type of inspiration for those people and give them hope that one day things can get better no matter how bad your circumstances are at the time.”

Through four games, Garrett Johnson is averaging over 17 points and eight rebounds, and has been named Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Week twice.  Through the adversity, on the outside looking in, Johnson doesn’t look like he skipped a beat.

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