While Stephen Johnson made quite an impact for the Kentucky Wildcats last season, his open dialogue about some struggles he faced in his life certainly made an impact on two children.
In a piece from Joe Mussatto of SEC Country, he explains how Johnson opening up about Tourette Syndrome made an impact on two children, Mikayla McCoy and Samuel Doster.
Mikayla, a 10-year-old from New Jersey, first heard Johnson speak on Tourette’s, which she has diagnosed with at five years old, during an interview on the 700 Club.
Mussatto explained that Mikayla and her family watched the interview together and it had quite the impact on her, changing her outlook on the condition.
It also seemed to have a reverse effect as well, as Johnson heard about what happened after a spring practice.
“I didn’t have a good practice, but after hearing that, all of that seemed so unimportant at the time,” Johnson told Mussatto. “I don’t know how to describe it. She’s basically going through the same things I was going through. To know that she heard my story and is trying to better things in her situation really warms my heart.”
For Samuel, it was much the same. Although Mussatto said his version was not quite as severe as Mikayla’s, he was able to meet with Johnson and talk with him for an extended amount of time.
He also wrote a letter to Johnson.
“Dear Stephen Johnson,
Thank you for spending so much time talking with me about tics. And thank you for being so nice to me. Thank you for showing me around the locker room and signing that football and helmet. And when you wrote stay strong Sam that really inspired me to pray and get rid of my tics. And I’m really happy I got to meet you. And good luck in the bowl game.”
Samuel and Stephen have remained friends since their meeting. Samuel sat beside Stephen after he was awarded the Howard Schnellenberger award for his performance in the UK-UL game, and they also were able to spend time together after UK’s Spring Game.
Johnson felt that God was telling him to share his story more, and so far, it has shown to make a huge impact for children trying to find their identity.
“I just felt God telling me you need to share this more,” Johnson says. “People need to hear your story and see how far you’ve come since then. … To see how I’m helping them really pushes me to open up more [because] I’m more of a closed-off guy.”
Stories like this just go to show the high quality of character of guys in the football locker room.
I would highly encourage you to read the full piece from Mussatto at SEC Country.