You could certainly use words like determined, inspirational, and powerful to describe Joey Johnson – but if the word “winner” isn’t included front-and-centre, then you’re probably doing it wrong.
After a degenerative hip disease diagnosis sidelined him from able-bodied sports at the age of eight, Johnson began his journey just one year later to become not only one of the best players to ever play the game of Wheelchair Basketball, but also one of the most decorated athletes in Manitoba’s history.
From the early-goings, Johnson’s presence on the court, and specifically in the paint, was something to keep an eye out for. While attending the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Johnson’s Warhawks won three National Championships (2001, 2002, 2003), with the Lorette Collegiate grad earning an All-American selection. It was in these years where the world got their first glimpse at Johnson’s winning combination of intensity, toughness, and skill– but this was just the beginning.
In nearly two decades playing for Team Canada, Johnson competed in the Paralympic Games five times, taking home gold in 2000, 2004, and 2012 to go along with a silver medal in 2008 in Beijing. His international tournament success also included a gold medal at the World Championships in 2006, as well as Junior World Championship gold in 1997. His reputation as one of the top power players in the world also gave him the opportunity to play professionally in Australia and most prominently in Wetzlar, Germany with RSV Lahn-Dill, a club which flourished in Johnson’s tenure where they won many European championships.
Even throughout the hardware, travelling the world, and his overall remarkable success, Johnson’s roots have always remained firmly planted in Manitoba soil. Not only did Johnson take the time to represent his home province, but he did so continuously and constantly throughout his career, competing at the club level and on the provincial team for an astounding 19 consecutive years.
After his retirement in 2012, his induction the very next year into the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame was only fitting for an athlete who not only found gold around the world, but took every opportunity he could to represent where he came from. And in 2016, you can add yet another line to one of the longest lists of athletic achievements you can find, as Johnson is deservingly inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.