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Dakari Johnson’s Journey to the NBA Brings Validation to a family that lives for basketball

Dec 20, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) and center Dakari Johnson (44) react after a play against the Utah Jazz during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

New York Times writer Amos Barshad recently wrote a featured story on former Wildcat and current Thunder center Dakari Johnson telling the story of a basketball family from Brooklyn.

Johnson’s family has a storied basketball history beginning with his grandfather Jitu Weusi, a basketball and community legend from Bedford-Stuyvesant, who played at Long Island University.

Weusi had eight children including Makini Johnson, Dakari’s mother, who at 6’5 also played at Long Island University where she starred as a defensive minded center.

Johnson explains what sets his family apart from others, “A lot of my past teammates have people in their family who play, but my family, it’s high school, pro-am, college, uncles, aunts, cousins, daughters. Everything revolves around basketball.”

Johnson’s uncles and mom played a big role in molding him into the man he is today, “My uncles, they’d beat up on me,” he said. “That created the love because I wanted to compete. From my mom, what I learned was patience.”

Another influence for Dakari growing up was his older cousin, Micheal Murray, who played at Coppin State and now professionally in Spain. “He’s the one I was honestly trying to catch up to my whole life,” Johnson said.

The article has much more about Dakari’s NBA journey and is really worth the read, check it out here.


Article written by Eli Mitchell

University of Kentucky Class of 2020

2 Comments for Dakari Johnson’s Journey to the NBA Brings Validation to a family that lives for basketball

  1. BowieWithaTurpin
    6:12 pm January 28, 2018 Permalink

    Wish we could have had that young man one more year but, super proud of the kid.

  2. Kat4Life
    6:43 pm January 28, 2018 Permalink

    He was such a neat kid to have in the program…….an under-appreciated player.