Former Pine Tree football star helps grieving family - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Former Pine Tree football star helps grieving family

Chris Johnson knows tragedy well. December 5, 2011, his 33 year old sister Jennifer Johnson was shot and killed by her ex boyfriend in Fort Worth.

Nearly one year later, Johnson was heartbroken to see 26 people, including 20 children shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.

"People don't realize you can't imagine what that family is going through until you've experienced something like it," said Johnson.  "I can actually cope with this because I know how it feels, someone so close to you being taken by some else's stupidity."

Two weeks ago the Ravens cornerback learned that one of the victims, 7 year old Josephine Gay and her family were from Baltimore. Nicknamed Joey, her favorite color was purple and her family loves the Baltimore Ravens. 

"It touched my heart because someone that young never will be able to grow up and experience life," said Johnson.

The former Pine Tree football player, wanted to give the Gay family one special experience. He's paying for Joey's parents and two sisters to attend the Ravens playoff game on Sunday. Johnson will present them with a purple Ravens jersey with Joey's name before kickoff.

"It's going to be emotional for me because I'm in a good situation where I can help a family out that's grieving right now," said Johnson, who has yet to meet Gay's parents Bob and Michelle.  "Once you go back to reality, you will miss your little girl and I'll miss my sister. But just to take their mind off something like that for three hours, to be in an environment where they grew up and also big fans of the Ravens."

Johnson can't take the Gay family on the field with him Sunday. He will take Joey's memory. Her name will be on his shoes.

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