Xavier Johnson was looking forward to making a major contribution to the Sunlake (Land O’ Lakes, Fla.) High football team.
“During spring practice the year of the accident he was starting Sam (linebacker) and starting fullback,” his father, Ross, said.
But then Xavier suffered a traumatic brain injury in May 2015 during a tubing accident.
“A couple of the players came by and said, ‘Can we take Xavier over here?'” said Johnson.
“Our relationship was built on football and I’ve been his coach for years,” said Johnson. “It was kind of like that final culmination of our relationship was put together in that one moment.”
“It was very exciting to know that my son could participate in his last game,” said Xavier’s mother, Lisa.
“It was almost like a dream. I was just nervous as a mom am I going to have to go out and unbuckle his seatbelt.”
“These guys have rallied around Xavier, supporting him,” said Ross Johnson. “I knew right then and there that there was something very special about this group of young people.”
“It was surreal, bittersweet. I’m very proud of him to work that hard to stand up and with the help of his brothers to take a few steps and get the touchdown,” Johnson said.
“It’s really meant a lot to my wife and I, these young people just constantly being by his side and encouraging him.”
“It means a lot seeing them out on the field with Xavier. It was really special,” said Lisa Johnson.
“That message that goes out is to be an encouragement to people. Don’t quit, don’t quit battling.” said Ross Johnson.
“It was just the perfect tribute that that team could have done for X.”