WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lonnie Johnson has been named Week 3 NFLPA Community MVP after volunteering to pay for the funeral services of a 14-year-old who tragically drowned in his hometown of Gary, Indiana.
“I am humbled and honored to be chosen as this week’s NFLPA Community MVP,” Johnson said. “Growing up in Gary, Indiana, I saw multiple friends die young due to gun violence. When I heard the news that a teen from Gary had passed away in a terrible accident, I felt motivated to help.”
On September 12, Curtis Walton Jr. passed away after drowning in the pool at Calumet New Tech High School. Even though he didn’t know the family, Johnson felt compelled to help after he heard the news on social media. The Texans rookie reached out to the teenager’s mother and high school about covering the costs of the funeral for Walton, who played football at Calumet New Tech.
“I know the heartbreak of losing someone all too well,” said Johnson, who lost a track and field teammate to gun violence in high school. “I saw this as an opportunity to help my city that has shaped who I am today. At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have accomplished; it’s about what you’ve given back.”
Since getting drafted by Houston in April, Johnson has been active in his new team city. He and his fellow rookie teammates surprised children at the Houston Texans YMCA with a summer bash. Johnson followed that up on September 17 by visiting Huddle Against Hunger, where he helped package meals and talked about nutrition and solutions to the issue of hunger with students from YES Prep East End. And this week, following his act of generosity to the Walton family, Johnson and the Texans rookies hosted 50 kids from Yellowstone Academy for an activity day at Emancipation Park, taking part in fun athletic drills and a conversation about how to change their communities.
In honor of Johnson being named this week’s Community MVP, the NFLPA will make a $10,000 contribution to the Gary Steelers Pop Warner Little Scholars. Also, our supporting partner Pledge It has set up the Picks With A Purpose crowdfunding campaign in Johnson’s name. Supporters can pledge contributions to Gary Steelers Pop Warner Little Scholars for every interception made by Johnson and the Texans this season, or they can make a flat donation at the following website: pledgeit.org/lonniejohnson.
Johnson, along with the other 2019 Community MVPs, will become eligible for this year’s Alan Page Community Award, which is the highest honor that the NFLPA can bestow upon a player.
The NFLPA Community MVP program recognizes NFL players who are making a positive impact in their local communities. Each week during the regular season, the NFLPA will celebrate one NFL player who has demonstrated a commitment to giving back to his community. Please visit our website to read more about the program.
2019 NFLPA Community MVP winners:
Week 0: Derrick Nnadi, Kansas City Chiefs
Week 1: Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
Week 2: Rashaad Coward, Chicago Bears