MANY YOUNG athletes dream of playing sports on a professional level. With the help of his family and the community of Shelbyville, Keon Johnson was able to turn his dreams into reality.
Johnson is well-known for his explosivity on the basketball court but the community remembers him as “the kid from Shelbyville with a dream.”
Johnson’s father, Keith, said he and his wife and former All-Southeastern Conference women’s basketball player, Conswella Sparrow Johnson, raised their three children to be honest, stay humble, and respect their elders.
Keon said he began to see how his community would later shape him into who he wanted to be, at an earlier age.
As a young teen, Keon attended The Webb School. Keith said part of Keon’s legacy was bridging the gap between athletics, academics, and the arts at Webb.
Keon made a lasting impact on The Webb School, but the school and community also made an impact on the lives of him and his family.
Keith said, “It takes a community to raise a child, and Webb was a part of our community.” Keon said that learning how to show up to class early and making good grades in school, prepared him for life beyond high school.
“They taught me a lot of life lessons while being at that small university.”
Keith said Keon started out playing baseball, but his passion for basketball later increased.
Keon spent his sophomore, junior, and senior years playing AAU basketball, which he says helped him get to where he is now. He later attended college at the University of Tennessee, where he played for the Tennessee Volunteers.
Keon was a first round draft pick in the 2021 NBA Draft on July 29, 2021, with the Los Angeles Clippers and is currently a shooting guard for the Portland Trailblazers.
Keith said the draft night was “unreal.”
“It happened so fast, July 29, and I think we’re still soaking it up. Draft night hasn’t left, in my mind.” Keith said it is still draft night and that “each game is a first.”
Keon’s extreme athleticism, agility, and energy have awarded him the ability to play in 22 games,12 of which he played as a starter in the 2021-22 season. His knack for dominating inside the paint has taken him far in his career, but his family said his mindset carries him even further.
Tyrell Johnson said Keon has an “explosive mindset,” describing him as “intelligent” and “respectable.”
Keon remains humble amidst his success and says using his platform as a professional athlete helps him positively impact his community.
“Me being in the business that I’m in now has made me able to shine a light on our community and how much it means to me,” he said.
Keon’s legacy continues in Portland, Oregon.
“It’s like being home in Tennessee, but thousands of miles away. That’s something I was looking for, going into my NBA career, is having that “home feeling” and being able to showcase what I can do on the court.” Keon’s legacy spans beyond the state of Tennessee, but the city of Shelbyville will always remember him as “the kid from Shelbyville with a dream.” GN