Chicago Tribune

Lonnie Johnson Jr.'s difficult journey reaches its tearful peak after two excruciating draft nights

Lonnie Johnson Jr. plopped into a couch with his fiancee, mother and younger brother in the drama room at Gary's West Side Leadership Academy in Gary, Ind., and watched on TV as NFL draft picks came off the board Friday night.

After several selections were announced, his uncle and former high school coach Jason Johnson stood up to make an announcement to the crowd of more than 50 people that slowly filled the chairs and tables behind them.

"The ringer is a sensitive thing right now, so turn your ringers on vibrate," Jason advised, drawing a few chuckles.

Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 213-pound cornerback, took a difficult, circuitous route to reach this night. He navigated the challenges of growing up in Gary, Ind., made two junior-college stops and took a year off from football to focus on academics before he could even begin to draw NFL interest while at Kentucky.

But that didn't make this wait any easier.

After only one cornerback was selected in the draft's first round Thursday, Johnson clapped when two

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune7 min readFood & Wine
What's The Best Pie Crust For Your Holiday Baking? We Tasted 11 To Find Out
It's time to start thinking about what you'll be making for your friends and family this holiday season. And what's a holiday meal without pie? As satisfying as it is to say you made an entire pie from scratch, sometimes it's just easier to focus on
Chicago Tribune2 min read
Bears Fall To Rams 17-7 As Quarterback Mitch Trubisky Suffers A Hip Injury
LOS ANGELES - The Bears' 17-7 loss to the Rams on Sunday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum was filled with misses. Missed kicks. Missed catches. Missed throws. And one big missed opportunity by the Bears (4-6) to build a winning streak and keep a gli
Chicago Tribune1 min read
The Weekly Geography Quiz
GEOQUIZ: Only one U.S. state has two panhandles. Name it. Answer: West Virginia. Wheeling, the state's first capital, is located in the northern panhandle, and Harpers Ferry is in the eastern panhandle. Visit Chicago Tribune at