NFL player returns home to inspire - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

NFL player returns home to inspire


As he stood in front of a packed auditorium at Gladewater High School, Chris Johnson wanted every kid in the crowd to understand, "I've been there before."  The Oakland Raiders cornerback returned to his hometown to help celebrate Black History Month.  Johnson didn't hold anything back, openly talking about mistakes and challenges throughout his life.

Johnson grew up in Gladewater, before moving to Pine Tree to play high school football.  He says he once sold drugs as a kid and spent time in jail. 

"My teachers thought I'd rather end up dead or spend my life behind bars," said Johnson.

The East Texan turned his life around.  Earning his degree at Louisville, Johnson was a seventh round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers, and after three stops in three years, he found a home in Oakland.  He signed four year, $11.3 million contract with in 2009.  Johnson's message was clear.  Anything is possible.

"Just for kids to see someone to overcome all of these struggles in my life," Johnson said.  "If I would have had an athlete or positive person that came back to Pine Tree when I was in high school, I think growing up would have been a little bit different for me."

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