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Johnson uses music, career to impact youth and community

By AJ MASON

Staff writer

Larry Johnson is no stranger to providing leadership and making an impact on others through his words of motivation and wisdom.

Since his Westlake High School days under former head football coach Dominic Zaccarelli, Johnson has been on the rise in his music career, a devout leader in the community and teaching in the school system for six years.

Johnson, a 2001 Westlake graduate, currently works as an inclusion resource teacher in the special education department for the Charles County Public Schools, and has been doing that for almost a year.

From 2007 to 2010, Johnson worked for High Road, an alternative school in Washington D.C., for students with emotional disabilities, and in 2006 started his first year as a teacher at Eugene Burroughs Middle School in Prince George’s County.

Johnson, 29, of Waldorf, has worked tremendously on his craft as a musician where he transformed into a gospel rapper in 2009 and will be releasing his third album called “But God” on Dec. 14.

Johnson’s style delivers a combination of stylized rhythmic lyrics from the word of God and hip-hop flavor where he is targeting the youth. The former Wolverine also has two other albums that he’s done called “Grain of Wheat” and “Know Thy Self.”

“The key is exposing the word of God to the kids, but at the same time giving them that hip-hop feel that they usually listen to on the radio,” said Johnson, whose been rapping since the age of 12 and is working on a doctoral degree in special education online from Walden University. “Music is something that I love, I used to listen to lyrics from Run DMC growing up.”

When asked what advice he would give to SMAC athletes of today Johnson simply stated, “nurture the seed, never chase the fruit.”

Johnson added: “Never chase the money or the championship trophy, the job, the money, the material. Simply nurture the seed, your gifts, talents, passions, and interests within you.”

Johnson’s ability as a musician has caught the eyes of many around Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia whenever he has performed at youth events, weddings and other shows to promote himself in the community.

“I’m amazed whenever I listen to him,” Larry’s wife Tameka said. “He keeps me going because he focuses on the word of God, music, community service and education. It’s very rewarding to have him by my side. He’s put a imprint on the lives of many. I couldn’t ask for a better husband.”

Johnson, along with his wife, is involved in a nonprofit organization called Reaching Out Now in Southern Maryland where they help impact the lives of low income families with children and teachers in the public school sector through social and economical assistance as well as provide opportunities for self sufficiency.

There are various organization programs such as Inspired to Lead for young girls and Lotus for boys to help them go in the right direction.

“We work on building character development and we want to reach out to people in the community to enhance and simplify their lives,” he said.

Johnson, who has a master’s degree in special education at Trinity Washington University, earned a bachelor’s in government and sociology in 2006 from Lafayette College in Easton, Pa.

At the Division I-AA institution, Johnson had a stellar career for the Leopards on the football field, leading them to back-to back Patriot League championships in his junior and senior seasons.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound defensive back finished with four career interceptions and currently holds school records with 625 kick return yards in a season and kick return average with 27.5 yards in a single season.

“I had a great college experience,” Johnson said. “It was hard, the main priority was being a student-athlete and focus was very important. The school was in a small town, there wasn’t much of a social life there. It was all about academics and athletics.”

During his high school days, Johnson was a two-sport standout in football and track and field. He was a three-year varsity letterwinner and captain of the football team where he also played wide receiver, cornerback and safety.

Johnson, who played three years on varsity, finished with 359 yards through the air, rushed for 671 yards while recording three interceptions and a fumble recovery with the Wolverines as a senior.

While nabbing All-County first-team honors that same season, Johnson received the Minds in Motion award and was the team’s offensive Most Valuable Player.

“Larry was very athletic and he has speed,” said Zaccarelli, Westlake’s athletic director. “He’s a very classy young man; he had a great career at Lafayette and showed great work ethic. The biggest thing was his leadership.”

“High school was memorable; I enjoyed playing with Randy Starks, LaVon Chisley, Lee Lambert, Ricardo Evans and Pierre Matthews. All those guys were great athletes. Ms. Vera [Young] was my favorite teacher, she taught me in English.”

After graduating from Westlake, Johnson attended Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School in Kingston, Pa. for a year. That year, as a receiver and cornerback, Johnson recorded seven interceptions and caught 19 balls for 459 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Johnson pointed out that is wife, parents, John and Belinda and younger brothers Jacques and Jamal have all been important people in his life.

Other influences in Johnson’s life have been Pastor Delman Coates of Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton and Pastor Kenneth Stewart at the Body of Christ Church in Waldorf.

ajmason@somdnews.com