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Tackling Life’s Challenges with Inky Johnson – 3-18-17

February 5, 2017

When faced with unexpected challenges in life, the way we respond and the choices we make can determine the impact is has on the rest of our life.  When courage and determination are key parts of the solution, the outcomes can lead to inspiring resilience in those it touches. This week we speak with Inky Johnson, who chose to devote himself to conquering the obstacles put in his path after a career-ending injury in a college football game while at the University of Tennessee.  Join us for his story, and by his ability to overcome a childhood of poverty and violence to be someone who inspires others.

Inky Johnson is a former University of Tennessee football player who grew up living in his grandparents’ two-bedroom house with 13 other family members. He slept on a pallet on the living room floor, in a neighborhood surrounded by drugs and violence in Kirkwood, Georgia. He and his family moved five times in nine years, all within Kirkwood. Stability was non-existent.

His success on the field led to the expectation that he would be drafted to the NFL in the first round, until he had a career-ending injury on a game tackle in the final minutes of a game on September 9, 2006.  The hit caused nerve damage in Johnson’s right shoulder and ended his playing career.  Dr. Russ Betcher, team doctor at the time, discovered on the field that Johnson’s eyelid was drooping, a sign of nerve damage called Horner’s syndrome. Spotting the symptom allowed doctors at UT Medical Center to stop internal bleeding and ultimately save Johnson’s life.

Since a routine tackle turned into a life-threatening injury, nothing has been normal for Inky. Not with a paralyzed right arm. Not with daily pain. Not with constant physical challenges.  His dream had always been to play professional sports. You might think his injury would have destroyed his motivation and crushed his spirit. But instead Inky looks in the face of defeat and says, “Am I really failing, or is God prevailing?” You’ll be inspired by his relentless determination, which he loves to impart to others through his dramatic story. Through his walk and his talk, Inky embodies and imparts a truly inspirational message.

Inky has a master’s degree in sports psychology from the University of Tennessee. He devotes much of his time to mentoring athletes and underprivileged youth. He and his amazing wife Allison live in Atlanta, Georgia with their beautiful children, Jada and Inky Jr.

Inky lives in Atlanta, Georgia and is a devout Christian. He now works as an inspirational speaker.  Learn more about Inky at

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