Cardinals’ Paris Johnson Jr. eyeing ways to extend his foundation’s reach in Arizona

Mar 19, 2024, 8:27 PM | Updated: Mar 20, 2024, 4:57 pm

PHOENIX — Don’t let his age fool you, Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. is no stranger to giving back to the communities around him.

From forming the Paris Johnson Jr. Foundation alongside his mother, Monica Daniels, during his high school years to continuing his charitable ways at the college level, Johnson has already gone above and beyond what other athletes his age are doing.

Now, the 22-year-old lineman is looking to expand his reach that much more in his new home months removed from wrapping up his first NFL season.

“What this is about — and I kind of remind myself of this a lot — this opportunity I have to play in the NFL, this is a game I was playing as kid,” Johnson told Arizona Sports’ Cardinals Corner on Thursday. “This is my dream, but it’s also my job. What comes with it is a lot of attention and it comes with a lot of money. I don’t really need all this money. It’s not for me. It’s for me to put other people in position to be able to have success.

“Whenever I go eat and someone’s hungry, I’m going to make sure they get the same food as me. I just think sometimes what you have as an NFL player, sometimes you don’t realize how much more your money or what the opportunity can bring to influence somebody else who doesn’t have it. You understand that when you go down to Brazil, you go down to South America where the gap for who has money and who doesn’t is even larger and you’re seeing a lot of kids.”

Since its inception, the foundation has taken part in numerous events spanning from water and food drives to raising funds for proper bedding for children in Nicaragua.

As far as his early work in the desert, Johnson spent the holidays lending a hand in local toy drives and honoring a veteran with tickets to Cardinals-Steelers in partnership with the NFL’s Salute to Service initiative.

That’s just the beginning of the foundation’s impact in the desert, with Johnson and Co. planning on fundraising for high school football equipment on top of aiding Habitat for Humanity across Phoenix, Cincinnati and Columbus in the near future.

Johnson doesn’t want to blindly give back or just sign a check, either.

Much like he’s seen throughout his time in Ohio and Arizona, it’s not one size fits all in terms of community needs.

On top of having the funds to give back, Johnson wants to make sure he’s putting the money in places where it will be most impactful.

One way to properly figure out where that is exactly is through collaboration with like-minded individuals who have already made their marks in the desert.

“Being able to do events in Arizona has been able to connect me with so many cool people,” Johnson said. “I got to talk with Kurt Warner which was awesome. Just talking about collaborating our foundations. He’s done phenomenal work and I told him it would be an honor to be able to do things together for Phoenix. It’s just an honor to have his number in my phone. That’s freaking cool. I used him on Madden for my ultimate team.

“This is what it’s about. It’s about me having the chance to be able to influence other people’s lives. … I want to do things different in Phoenix than I did in Columbus and Cincinnati, because the needs in the Phoenix community are totally different. That’s why I want to partner with guys like Kurt Warner (and Treasure House). I want to be able to partner with people who have already done the work here, because they know the needs here.”

And while landing more financial backing could go a long way in making Johnson’s vision for his work in Arizona a reality, it’s not just about the dollar signs. It’s about shining a brighter light on community issues and giving others a chance to lend a helping hand through knowledge and information.

Because as Johnson sees it, “everyone deep down has the spirit of wanting to help people.”

“Helping people isn’t just about the money, it’s also about creating awareness,” Johnson added. “You want to see other people happy, but I feel like sometimes you’re just not aware to certain issues going on. Being able to use your platform to build awareness on certain things can get people to come along.

“Sometimes what you don’t need is money, you need volunteers. Sometimes you just might need people to vote for something to fix something. I want to be able to use the platform with the money and influence to be able to fund the right things and put people in a better position to have a better life.”

What is the Paris Johnson Jr. Foundation?

The Paris Johnson Jr. Foundation’s mission is to “empower and serve disabled veterans and disadvantaged student-athletes with dignity and respect.”

“We want individuals to know their past doesn’t define them,” the website reads. “We exist to provide assistance so the veterans and athletes we serve can seek the most out of their lives.”

Among the foundation’s successes include raising more than $20,000 and serving more than 200 veterans and 550 students. Johnson and Co. have hosted 16 events and helped out nine charities, according to the foundation’s website.

Those who want to get involved or know more, can visit the foundation’s website.

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