Archive for Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Former Jayhawk defensive end Johnson dies

March 31, 2004


Former Kansas University lineman Dion Johnson died in his sleep Saturday, nearly two years after he was shot in the head.

Johnson's sister, Lisa Fields, told the Journal-World on Tuesday night that the former defensive end was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"He was going to Blockbuster to get movies," Fields said in a phone interview. "He heard shots and tried to duck out of the way, but he was so big."

Johnson was a 6-foot-4, 290-pounder who started 31 games for KU in 1996-99. He led Kansas linemen with 34 tackles as a senior.

Fields said her brother played in an international league before coming home to Detroit. He had a tryout with the Chicago Bears on May 11, 2002 -- the same day he was shot.

Fields said the Bears called back a few days later, unaware Johnson never would be able to play again.

"He was totally disabled," Fields said of her brother, who had been living with their mother. "He was in the hospital for a long time. Then he was in rehab."

Fields said the family was waiting for an autopsy to determine cause of death. Johnson, 27, is survived by three sons between the ages of 4 and 9.

"He was a great kid," said former KU coach Terry Allen, now an assistant at Iowa State. "He tried to get away from that, but apparently he didn't. Detroit's a tough town. It's a sad thing."

A memorial service for the former all-state lineman will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at New Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit.

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