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Parsons, Johnson making most of 2nd chances
“I really do think we have a chance to make something happen,” Johnson said. “The guys in this locker room, as long as they believe in what we’re been doing all season, even through the ups and downs, as long as we keep fighting we’ll have a chance.”
No one should count Johnson out, either.
Johnson never met his father, and when he was a little more than a year old, his mother was murdered in a crime that remains unsolved. When he was 6, a fire destroyed his grandmother’s home and killed his great-grandmother, aunt and two young cousins.
His grandmother died five years later. His brothers, Robbie Johnson and Jamell Damon, took over from there. They were in their 20s and had children of their own, but took on the added responsibility in hopes of keeping their little brother off the streets.
“I felt like I had to grow up really fast,” Orlando Johnson said. “For them to stop there and take on me, it was a lot for them. I just don’t know how they did it. I’m glad I can repay them by being here today and giving them the opportunity to see me play.”
“He doesn’t have a traditional life,” Williams said. “He didn’t have mom and dad there taking care of him and all that. He had two brothers that love him dearly and have been like parents to him and have been like best friends to him. Orlando has a support system that’s second to none in terms of that.”
Parsons knows what that feels like.
His parents have been to just about every game since he’s been at Florida. Parsons learned to play basketball from his father, a Division II player of the year, and his grandfather, a former Rutgers standout who got drafted by the New York Knicks. Two of his three brothers also played college sports.
“They’ve been through the process,” Parsons said. “They understood what it’s like to be a freshman, what it’s like after a loss, after a win. They’re really been in my corner and been very supporting of me ever since I’ve been at Florida.”
“I want it to end six games from now with us cutting down the nets,” he said.
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
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