OAKLAND — Josh Johnson has played for 17 teams during a 15-year pro career as a quarterback, but the 36-year-old has never thought of anywhere but Oakland as his home.
“I was raised here from a little boy to a grown man, and I’ve always been at this place,” said Johnson, now the 49ers’ backup quarterback. “I work out here and do everything here because it’s home.“
On Friday night, Oakland Tech honored Johnson, his cousin, Marshawn Lynch, baseball legend Rickey Henderson and former Cal stars Leon Powe and Alexis Gray-Lawson as part of the school’s first Hall of Fame class.
Lynch, Johnson’s teammate on the 2003 Silver Bowl-winning Tech team, drew the loudest cheers from a standing-room-only crowd.
The former NFL star did not speak during the ceremony, but he greeted well-wishers in the gymnasium throughout the night.
He declined to answer questions from the media.
“We’ve had some good things happen through Tech, and Marshawn is a good example of that,” girls basketball coach LeRoy Hurt said.
Lynch ran for 1,722 yards and 23 touchdowns on that Tech squad before moving on to Cal and a long NFL career as “Beast Mode.”
“He’s been saying, ‘Man, I feel like we’re back in high school, like back when we were playing,’” said Virdell Larkins III, who also played on the 2003 Tech team and now is the school’s head football coach.
Before the ceremony, which did not include Henderson and Powe, Johnson watched his daughter Jhai score nine points for Tech in a 72-24 win over Oakland.
“He will always show up when you need it,” said Jhai, a freshman starter. “No matter what it is or what he’s doing, he’ll always drop what he’s doing just to be there for you.”
While Johnson traveled from coast to coast as a professional athlete, he was adamant that his family needed stability in the East Bay.
“It was important for her to stay here,” Josh Johnson said. “We know the lay of the land, we know what’s happening and we know human beings are developed here. It was very important for her to experience that.”
In addition to honoring its Hall of Fame class, the school also recognized its first Hall of Distinction.
Larkins was among the seven inductees. He followed in the footsteps of his mentor, the late Delton Edwards, Tech’s former football coach.
As Tech honored its former stars, Larkins on this special night remembered Edwards and also took pride in defensive end Omar Staples signing a letter of intent last month to play football at Stanford.
“I hope I’m making him proud,” Larkins said about Edwards, “and I wish I could call him and say, ‘I got a kid into Stanford.’”
Although Friday night was an opportunity to remember the past, Tech alums are optimistic about the school’s future.
“It’s a generational thing, you know,” Josh Johnson said. “My older brothers and sisters, and my mom all went here. My daughter is here continuing the legacy, and it’s exciting to see.”
Comments are closed.