Tim Johnson was always the life of the locker room. Coaches and teammates describe the St. Anthony and LBCC offensive lineman as funny, bright and upbeat.
Now the Long Beach football community is dealing with the loss of one of its friendliest faces after Johnson passed away Sunday morning. He was 20 years old.
“He had a great sense of humor,” LBCC football coach Brett Peabody said. “He always had the lineman room laughing hysterically.”
Johnson was in a car accident on Sept. 11 and was hospitalized to undergo surgery on his pelvis and hip. After recovering, Johnson went home with his family, but an intestinal tear sent him back to the hospital and he died Sunday from complications of sepsis.
“He was a big strong kid, and he fought to the end,” Johnson’s father Charles said.
After starting his high school football career at Lakewood, Johnson went on to St. Anthony where he was a featured lineman in 2014, playing offensive and defensive line. He was an All-League selection and also was the designated hitter for the Saints’ baseball team.
“He played both ways for us, he was one of the guys who really helped us turn the corner in that 2014 season,” Saints coach Mario Morales said. “My heart is really hurting right now for the family; this is just devastating.”
Johnson’s father remembered his son’s senior year fondly.
“It was a beautiful year,” he said. “Baseball and football.”
Johnson was a popular player who made friends with many other kids around the city growing up, and football players from Poly, Wilson, Millikan and Lakewood posted remembrances of him on Twitter after learning the news on Sunday.
Peabody said Johnson was a perfect teammate and citizen in his few months at LBCC.
“He was a model Viking-type kid, a great attitude and very coachable,” Peabody said. “We’re all reeling — our line coaches talked to him last week about getting his paperwork together to get his year of eligibility back.”
Peabody said the team will do everything it can to remember Johnson, including helmet decals and reaching out to the family.
“But how can you really do enough?” he said. “It’s so hard — we’re just going to tell our guys to appreciate life. It’s precious, we’re blessed with everything around us.”
Memorial services are pending and will be published once finalized. Johnson is survived by his parents, Charles and Kandee, and his sisters Joy and Kimberly.