CHARACTER COUNTS

TNT host Ernie Johnson’s speech to Alabama football has a touching message

Aug 12, 2021, 1:39 PM
Phil Mickelson celebrates with the winnings after defeating Tiger Woods as Ernie Johnson looks on d...
Phil Mickelson celebrates with the winnings after defeating Tiger Woods as Ernie Johnson looks on during The Match: Tiger vs Phil at Shadow Creek Golf Course on November 23, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images for The Match)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images for The Match)

Inside the NBA’s Ernie Johnson is usually trying to focus his three wild co-hosts to row in the same general direction.

Keeping Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith on course appears like a fun gig on the surface. And that’s what Johnson is most well-known for doing.

But Johnson revealed more about both his professional and personal life to the Alabama football team. The TV host was invited by head coach Nick Saban to give a motivational speech to the Crimson Tide, and the message hit heartstrings before going viral.

Johnson related his own job at TNT with the Alabama players. Working as a team, finding roles and appreciating an opportunity are all fine lessons to learn.

“What I’ve got is a get-to job, not a got-to job. I get to do that,” he said. “When you look across the room and you lock eyes with a teammates and are wearing the same colors, that’s a get-to, not a got-to.”

But then, speaking about the value in everyone on a team, Johnson gets personal. His son, Michael, was adopted from Romania with what was later determined to be muscular dystrophy.

“The nurse who handed this boy to (my wife), you know what she said? She said, ‘Don’t take this boy, he’s no good.’ Can you imagine? And I said bring him home,” Johnson said.

In high school, the high school basketball coach at Michael Johnson’s school wanted Johnson to join the team. The coach found value in Michael, a role.

Though Michael requires a wheelchair and struggles to move and communicate, the coach believed Michael could teach his team to give maximum effort and how to have a heart for others. Michael’s favorite phrase, “I love you,” was taught by the coach to his other students.

Ernie Johnson explained that he could see the impact his son made on senior night, when Michael was honored as part of the team.

“… I look up in the student section and they’re standing like this (signing ‘I love you, too’), because this kid, this Romanian orphan and this coach from Indiana somehow got together in a gym in Braselton, Georgia, and taught this huge school about love,” Ernie Johnson said.

“Remember: ‘Don’t take this boy, he’s no good.’ Right. (Find) value in everybody. When you step away from your agenda and notice there are moments that can make somebody’s life better … be a better human. How you gonna do it?”

character counts

Character Counts is a registered trademark of the Josephson Institute.

Character Counts

Follow @AZSports...
Character Counts

8th grader maintained school activities through virtual COVID-19 setting

Life in school has been wildly different for children during the COVID-19 pandemic. It didn't stop Hanna Macias during her eighth-grade year.
6 days ago
Follow @AZSports...
Character Counts

Mountain Ridge’s Tegan Bernard helps individuals find strength

Mountain Ridge High School's Tegan Bernard knows that not everyone can be mentored or helped in the same way.
8 days ago
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) reacts as he pulls down a rebound ahead of Boston Celtics center ...
Character Counts

Chris Paul defended 10-day signee Emanuel Terry, changed heckler’s tone

Chris Paul may be nicknamed the Point God, but his status among basketball greats doesn't make him forget about mere mortals.
15 days ago
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals looks on prior to their game against the Detroi...
Jake Anderson

Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury helps donate $110K for brain injury organization

Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury pledged to donate $5,000 to Team Luke Hope for Minds for every Arizona win this season.
17 days ago
(Photo courtesy Ashley Martin)...
Character Counts

Apache Junction High School’s Shantel Ortiz wants to give everyone a fair chance

Like most kids her age, Shantel Ortiz knows that her future plans can change. Job opportunities and educational goals evolve.
18 days ago
Leighton Accardo (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)...
Arizona Sports

Coyotes to host Skatin’ for Leighton event on Jan. 30

The event will benefit the Leighton Accardo Memorial Fund, which provides assistance to girls in the Valley who want to play hockey.
1 month ago
TNT host Ernie Johnson’s speech to Alabama football has a touching message