Choctaw guard played on same day he laid his mother to rest


CLINTON, Miss. (WJTV) – Antonio Johnson always knew where she was from what he called, “a unique cheer.”

“She would mess up the cheerleaders’ cheer and she would make it her own,” Johnson said. “Everybody would laugh.”

But on Dec. 4, the Mississippi College senior guard feared he might not get to hear that cheer again. His mother, Margaret, had to be rushed to the hospital.

“When I saw her, it did something to me,” Johnson said. “I knew something wasn’t right.”

Over the next couple of days, her heart stopped three times and doctors kept bringing her back.

“Honestly, on Tuesday night, I knew that the machine was probably the only thing keeping her alive,” Johnson said.

The next day, his family decided to take her off of life support. Margaret Johnson died at the age of 62. And Antonio gave her a final message.

“I said I’ll be playing for her,” Johnson said. “She won’t be there for graduation and I’ll just keep going for her.”

That meant getting ready for the Choctaws’ next game against West Alabama that Saturday, the same day as her funeral.

“She loved watching us play sports,” Johnson said. “Playing in the game would’ve been something she wanted me to do.”

So he did. The McComb native said he had trouble focusing and didn’t have his best game, scoring five points in an 86-60 loss. But this wasn’t a night to be defined by stats or scores.

Just the sheer strength Margaret Johnson instilled in her son.

“I didn’t know I was this strong, but she raised me pretty good, for me to be strong,” Johnson said. “Me playing shows how strong I was for her.”

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