We all know what a special person Stephen Johnson is, and tomorrow, he will receive a very special award for his outstanding character. Freddie Maggard, the Depth Chart Podcast crew, and Jack Kain Ford will present Johnson with the inaugural Tom Cannon Courage Award at the Jack Kain Ford dealership in Versailles. The ceremony will take place at 4:30 p.m.
The Tom Cannon Courage Award will be presented each year to the University of Kentucky student athlete who exemplifies a commitment to the principals of sportsmanship and courage in overcoming and excelling past obstacles in their way. The recipient will symbolize professionalism, great strength and dedication to their community and team. I think it’s safe to say Stephen fits that description.
The award is named for Bowling Green native Tom Cannon, formerly a 31-year old teacher at Winburn Middle School in Lexington and ardent UK Athletics fan. Tom came down with an illness at the 2016 Kentucky/South Carolina football game and was diagnosed the next week at University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center with stomach cancer. He lived one year, to the age of 31, and showed such courage with the preparations he made for his wife and family while facing death that Freddie Maggard and KSR’s Depth Chart Podcast team decided to recognize his courage by starting the Tom Cannon Courage Award, sponsored by Jack Kain Ford. A plaque will be presented to Johnson commemorating the honor by the widow of Tom Cannon, Laura Eaton Cannon of Lexington and his parents, Alan and Jane Cannon of Bowling Green.
By now, you should be familiar with Stephen Johnson’s story. He was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome as a child, but was able to overcome it through his faith in God and the ability to channel his emotions through sports. He came to Kentucky in January 2016 as a JuCo transfer, and when starting quarterback Drew Barker went down with an injury, led UK to seven wins in its last eleven games. Stephen is the second quarterback in school history to pass for at least 300 yards within their first two career games played and the first UK quarterback with at least 300 passing yards and at least 50 rushing yards since Patrick Towles vs. Mississippi State on Oct. 25, 2014. Injured after the 2017 Music City Bowl, Stephen Johnson walked out of the locker room without crutches because he didn’t want fans to see him hurt.
The public is invited to attend, so we encourage you to come out to Jack Kain Ford (3405 Lexington Road, Versailles) to congratulate Stephen on this well-deserved honor.