Written by Carson Deveau
Coming home to play for the Halifax Hurricanes is bigger than just basketball for Chris Johnson – it's an opportunity to have a positive impact on the youth in a community, and province, that he loves.
"I've always dreamt about coming home and providing our youth direction, and opportunities, to achieve their goals. To be able to do so wearing a Halifax Hurricanes' jersey is truly amazing."
The 6'5 wing is a native of North Preston, and played his high school basketball in Cole Harbour at Auburn Drive. After graduating, Chris took his talents south and moved to the United States to play in the NCAA with St. Bonaventure University.
After completing his time in university, Chris played overseas for teams in England, Germany, and Portugal for a few years before coming back to Canada to play for the Cape Breton Highlanders. Last season, the versatile two-way wing averaged 14 points, four rebounds, and two assists, and was named to the NBL Canada All-Canadian Second Team.
Though he signed, and excelled, for the Highlanders, Chris wanted to come back home and play for the Hurricanes. He and Mike Leslie, Hurricanes' President and General Manager, discussed how they could bring Chris home. After multiple discussions, the Hurricanes acquired Chris' rights this summer, and signed him to a contract that would allow him to play in his hometown for the first time since high school.
"I was very excited when I found out about the trade. Coming home means so much to the community I'm from, and the basketball world in Nova Scotia as a whole."
There are two people in particular that makes this homecoming especially important for Chris – his little brother, Caleb Johnson, and his nephew, Jajsuan Downey.
After playing out of country for so many years, Chris felt a disconnect between the two, which upset him as both are trying to follow in his footsteps, and make a career from playing basketball. Currently, both are scouted as top 10 high school prospects in all of Canada, and are averaging more than 25 points per game.
With colleges and universities across North America beginning to reach out to the two, Chris felt he had a responsibility to come home and help them during this pivotal time of their young careers.
"I just felt it was important for me to come back home after all of those years away, so that I could help direct their careers both on, and off of, the court."
But, Chris' effort to support the youth does not stop with just his family. Chris is trying to mentor local Nova Scotia youth both on, and off the court, with his non-profit organization Tunnel Vision Association.
Tunnel Vision Association was created by Chris to not only help Nova Scotian youths train, and improve their game, but also mentor them off the court. Tunnel Vision Association helps youths accomplish their goals in the classroom, and teaches them the importance of giving back to the community.
"I'm blessed to be able to be doing something that I love, in a city that I love, and I thank God for the opportunity to allow me to do it."
And now that Chris is finally back home, his family, and youths in his organization, will get to the see that leadership day-in, and day-out, beginning on December 29th, when the Hurricanes play The St. John's Edge at the Scotiabank Centre.
Chris hopes to show those that look up to him, and Hurricanes' fans in general, what it's like to do something you are passionate about, while always being humble and gracious for the opportunity you are in. After going through training camp with the team, Chris believes he will be a perfect fit with the franchise.
"They have a tradition of being a winning organization throughout the years, and I have a tradition of being a winning player."