Oakland gun violence victim receives surprise to further wheelchair basketball dreams

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OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — A few years ago, KRON4’s Jason Dumas met the Johnson family. Great people, born and bred in Oakland.

Part of that family is two brothers, Kenny and Keshad. They’re bonded by many things, but basketball is probably the main one.

Keshad currently plays at San Diego State, we’ve highlighted him on KRON4 before. But this piece is more about big bro, Kenny, who is carving out his own path on the hardwood, and hasn’t let tragedy get in his way.

It was the surprise of a lifetime.

Kenneth Johnson, a 23-year-old Oakland native, was gifted with a state of the art wheelchair to help further his dreams of becoming a high level wheelchair basketball player.

“First I was confused, I didn’t know it was mine. I just thought it was like another chair,” Kenny said. “Once you guys actually walked up to me and was like this is yours. I was like it’s time, it’s go-time, it’s actually time to put that work in.”

But if you know Kenny, you’d know he’s been putting that work in since he was 13 years old. 

“I got shot 10 times. I was just walking home and a black SUV rolled past me and then they stopped and I ended up walking past them and they just started shooting,” he said.

Doctors told him he’d never walk again. Proved them wrong, Kenny walks with canes. It was that determination that caught the attention of Golden State Road Warrior star, Art Renowitzky.

“He’s been coming out and amazing all of us with the Road Warriors with how he plays,” Renowitzky said. “He knows the game of basketball, he’s tough, plays like his brother, but in a chair, and balls out.”

And Kenny was doing all that, in a pretty beat up chair. That’s when Howard Nathel stepped in. A long time family friend of Kenny’s, Nathel started a scholarship in Kenny’s name that will help people like Kenny for years to come.

“My son and I decided to help support what we now call the Kenny Ray Johnson Adaptive Sports Scholarship,” Nathel said. “And it just transpired. And we donated money and my son’s company does matching funding. So we will do it every year.”

And you know the saying — look good, feel good, play good.

“I feel like I can be an Olympian now. The sky’s the limit,” Kenny said. “As long as I keep on coming out and putting in the work and follow people like Marcus Oden and Art. Ima be good!”

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