Spring 2021 Magazine

Former Chiefs RB Larry Johnson grateful for the 'new heart' God gave him

The more success Larry Johnson had on the football field, the more difficult things became off it. What started as outbursts at coaches and taunting opponents as a kid in an effort to impress Larry Johnson Sr. — his father and Ohio State’s current defensive line coach — evolved into heavy partying and multiple arrests by the time Johnson’s professional career was over.

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Through his struggles, God kept pursuing Johnson. Over the last few years, He radically transformed Johnson’s life.

“I was trying to party myself to death and He just would not give up on me, and I think that’s credit to His grace and long-suffering,” Johnson said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast. “He let me rebel to a point where I was tired of rebelling.”

Johnson rushed for 2,087 yards in his final season at Penn State, prompting the Kansas City Chiefs to take him in the first round of the 2003 draft. He played seven seasons in Kansas City and set an NFL record with 416 carries in 2006. Johnson finished with more than 1,700 rushing yards in 2005 and 2006, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl both seasons.

He spent time with the Chiefs, Bengals and Redskins before ending his career by appearing in one game for the Dolphins in 2011.

Now, Johnson spends his time working for a nonprofit organization called The Motivational Edge, which is focused on serving youth through the arts, and raising his daughter, Jaylen. One of the results of his transformation is a passion for serving others.

“He kind of, piece by piece, stripped my ego, stripped Larry Johnson, Penn State, Kansas City,” Johnson said. “He stripped that away from me and began to give me a new heart where I was helping a lot of people and talking more about the goodness that He gave me and being able to help other kids that were struggling. The more I talked, the more I was growing into what He wanted me to be.”

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