Demetrious Johnson, a starting safety for the Detroit Lions in the 1980s, has passed away at the age of 61.
The day after Christmas has brought some sad news to the Detroit Lions family. Demetrious Johnson, who played four seasons for the team in the 1980s (1983-1986) has passed away at the age of 61.
Johnson was a fifth-round pick by the Lions in the 1983 NFL Draft out of Missouri. He played in 62 games for Detroit, starting 37 (all 16 games in 1985 and 1986), with five interceptions, nine fumble recoveries (five in 1985) and three sacks (all in 1985).
Johnson played three games for the Miami Dolphins in 1987, the final season of his career.
Former Lions safety Demetrious Johnson dead at age 61
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Johnson passed away on Christmas Eve due to complications from an aortic dissection, a rare heart disease.
After his playing career was over, Johnson became prominent in his hometown (St. Louis) as a philanthropist and radio host. He worked as a sales manager for a medical supplies company before starting the Demetrious Johnson Foundation in 1992. The foundation ran youth sports and tutoring programs year-round, with noted, well-known Thanksgiving turkey giveaways and toy drives at Christmas time.
"To see hungry kids not being able to have a meal, that’s unfathomable to me,” Johnson told the Post-Dispatch in 2017 after a food drive that delivered 10,000 individual lunches to St. Louis kids who qualify for free or reduced-priced meals during the school year. “I just want to make sure we can do something to make these kids’ lives a bit better. If you try to do the right thing, people will support you and want to be a part of making change in this community.”"
Johnson is survived by his wife, six children and five siblings. Our condolences to his friends and family, and his generous spirit will certainly live on through his foundation.