Aaron Simpson here with SimpsonElite Media, I was able to catch up with Marlon Johnson who had a full summer with playing in consecutive years in the TBT with Team BrotherlyLove for a million dollar cash prize. Johnson also was playing Pro pick up ball in the city of Chicago at the DENARDBROS Pro Run, and Johnson did not disappoint as he showed why he is in fact, a pro! I was able to ask him a few questions about his championship season, the mental side of playing overseas, and signing with the South Bay Lakers.
1. Talk about your overseas experience. lifestyle, basketball and the atmosphere from the fans?
Johnson- My overseas life itself is a challenge forsure especially if you never travelled over the waters prior. You have to get adjusted to their food and lifestyle. That alone is a good experience, challenging yourself just trying something new by exploring. On the basketball side, your local fans will show you much respect and love for representing their team. At the games the energy is good through wins & losses. Its a good space to be in forsure. I been fortunate to be in some solid situations so my experience been good so far.
2. Do you have some advice you can give a kid that thinks overseas is the route for them, can you prepare for the emotional roller coaster of being away from family and having to compete at such a high level?
Johnson- My advice to anyone taking the overseas route is that you need to prepare mentally over anything. Basketball probably the last problem, think about it. You not gone be there if they think u can’t hoop so you there for a reason, you know to go kill on that court. It’s the frustration from outside those lines that throws you off and it will affect the court play. You will be challenged in a lot of ways, from having to eat different food. Not see your people/family, barely even talk to then depending on time differences. Missing birthdays,sessions, holidays, funerals, baby showers . Literally everything.It’s very possible cause I did, but after A while I started it started getting to me in a way I didn’t even notice. So I’d say get that mental right and you can make it anywhere.
3. What are somethings you learned/or is different than playing in the states? Is it tougher overseas than playing in the states?
Johnson- I'd say the difference is athleticism forsure, Americans more athletic than europeans and basketball has different styles to it around this world .
4. For the Edmonton Stingers, you were amongst the best rebounders on the team, did you make a point of emphasis going into the season or you just have an act for reading misses?
Johnson- It’s just how I play the game. Rebounding is an important part of the game, I try to get my hands dirty.
5. 2x Champ for the stingers, can you talk about your mindset and the work that into those seasons to obtain the ultimate goal?
Johnson- CEBL (Canadian Elite Basketball League) is a summer job so we coming in off reg season. I used CEBL to boost my confidence and to work on things I need to get better on. Just that and wanting to win period is the mindset I came in with. Buying into your teammates and just being a pro took us there every time we won a championship. It’s a different feeling when EVERYONE buys in and no one complains.
6. This past summer you decided to come back to the TBT with “Team Brotherly Love” talk about your experience in the TBT?
Johnson- My first year with team brotherly love was my eye opening experience of real pros. Team Brotherly love showed real love to me bringing me in period. But TBT was great got to play against some great players, definitely a experience I needed just being in that tbt stage it was a pleasure.
7. What music are you playing before games?
Johnson- I like Veeze,Kodak, future, CEO Trayle, starlito, skilla baby
8. I want to dive deeper into your personal story, from off the court issues almost losing your life away from home. Can you touch on this story, I think it’ll be powerful for the youth.
Johnson- I’m playing my season in Finland. I’m there the preseason and everything else did my medicals and passed everything wit no problems. So we 2 games in the season and I ended up feeling sick after my second game I ended being sick and not practicing for 3 days straight. I’m feeling worse by the day so I take multiple covid test and I’m passing them. So my teammate and GM came to pick me up drive to the hospital but I couldn’t walk down the stairs so my teammate called the ambulance and they shipped me to the hospital. Shout out my guy Marcus Lewis I got much love for bro. I don’t really remember the first week and a half cause I was asleep most of it but I did talk to fam one time I was woke just to tell them I was alive at least but don’t know what’s the problem was. After being there taking so many test etc. They told me the crack I had in a tooth got bacteria in it overtime and it formed a blood cloth in my neck and caused multi organ failure to my kidneys, & liver. They say if the blood cloth was natural then I probably couldn’t play basketball again but since it formed from something else I should be good as long as I stay healthy. I was on blood thinners & antibiotics for 5-6 months while seeing blood and kidney doctors every 2 weeks. My mental was not bad, I was positive throughout most of it I never put myself down I just played a mental game wit myself to keep me strong because deep down I’m really scared. So I just watched basketball and told myself everyday how it was gone get better and how I couldn't wait to put a bucket on somebody when I get back between then lines..I got home late November and had to do recovering process without doing any physical activities until I’m cleared. Couldn’t touch a ball at all. I eventually got cleared in May 2021 just in time for the CEBL. We end up up being 15-1 & we got a championship. I looked at life so different after that .. I was so appreciative of being able to hoop I didn’t care about the small stuff any more. Being away and alone during that whole process made me better in a lot of ways. Most tough situation will be very helpful if you embrace it all.