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Speaker encourages students to persevere through trials

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Goodness Ohia Obioha

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Daniella Anyabine

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Motivational speaker Inquoris “Inky” Johnson spoke to students at the Trojan Center about overcoming trials in life.

Trojan Athletics organized the event in partnership with Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) on Tuesday, March 6.

“My challenge to you while you’re at Troy University: don’t allow life, opposition, adversity and challenges to make you forget why you do what you do,” Johnson said.

Johnson was a cornerback at the University of Tennessee, just eight days away from being a first-round draft pick in 2006, when a serious hit to his shoulder caused his right arm and hand to be paralyzed. He underwent two major surgeries, had 350 staples in his body, was bandaged from the neck to the knees and had to re-learn basic mobility skills like writing and shoe-tying.

He later became a motivational speaker, using his underprivileged past from a crime-ridden neighborhood in Atlanta in accompaniment with his serious injury to encourage those around him to never let life stop them from being great.

“Young people, finish what you started and honor the people that came before you and leave a legacy for those that are coming behind you,” Johnson said to the audience, which was primarily composed of student athletes. He emphasized the need to lead by example, stating that an example is 10 times more powerful than an opinion.

Having been a student athlete himself, Johnson advised students to not just focus on one aspect of their lives but to make sure all aspects such as academics, sports, social life, family and friends are balanced.

Through his story, Johnson emphasized the importance of the relationships with his teammates.

“I loved the fact that I could be a part of something with a group of individuals,” he said. “What we were working for was greater than any one of us.”

The loyalty among the teammates was so strong that even after his accident, it didn’t stop him from encouraging his teammates, and it didn’t stop his teammates from being there for him. He was adamant about finishing what you start and never giving up.

Cameron Rice, a senior social science major from Huntsville and the president of FCA, recalled meeting Johnson when Rice was in eighth grade.

“He said something to me from that point about trusting the process,” Rice said. “And literally from that day, I’ve been following him and always been keeping up with him, and he’s become like a family friend to us since that day and, like I said, probably one of the biggest mentors of my life.

“Life is not over. When hard things come, you have to continue to push through it. For one, you submit your issues to God, first of all, and then you just continue to run at life in the same way. It will get you down and continue to punch you, but that doesn’t mean that you continue to stay down.”

Troy football players were required to attend, but Head Coach Neal Brown estimated that 80-90 percent of them follow Johnson on social media and most, if not all, were genuinely excited for the event.

“First of all, he’s a dynamic speaker with an unbelievable story,” Brown said. “What he talks about is really relevant to what a lot of the student athletes are going through.

“They hear a lot of the same messages from all their coaches, but to hear it from a former student athlete, somebody that has overcome adversity and now is successful in real life, I think it takes it to a whole new level.”

Amber Thomas, a senior biomedical sciences major from Mobile, said the event was something she really needed.

“It’s important to complete your goal in life,” Thomas said. “You should never stop, and you shouldn’t let obstacles get in your way.”