Remembrances of Steve Johnson Sr
Steve Johnson Sr. passed away in his sleep on Thursday, May 11. He leaves behind his wife Michelle, his son ATP Tour player Stevie and daughter Alison.
The following are remembrances from the tennis world, who were shocked and saddened by his sudden death.
Eric Amend, former USC All American:
"No matter who you were, he made you feel like the most important person in the room. He was everyone's best friend and I'm truly shocked and saddened from the news. He was a special human being who was a joy to be around because he was always so uplifting and positive. Thanks for being so kind, Steve."
Ross Whitaker, father of Ventura College player Bill Whitaker, coached by Johnson at the recent Ojai Tennis Tournament:
"Steve was a huge presence in my life as well as my son Bill Whitaker. He was a great human being. He cared about us in a profound way. We talked of our families a lot and his devotion to his wife, Michelle and his children, Alison and Stevie was deep and pure. His father, Fred, was always in our conversations. To all the lives that he touched, on and off a tennis court, as a friend, a mentor, a coach, and a leader will all be profoundly shaken. I can barely breathe... Now all there is to do is cry, let that pass, and move to fond memories."
Cathy Godlewski, parent of a junior player coached by Johnson:
"… He had such a great way of connecting with his tennis family -- so generous, supportive and made us laugh. You could always see how much joy he took from teaching and coaching."
Bobby Blair, tennis author:
"Very sad day for tennis. Just a few weeks ago we spent time together at the Jack Kramer Club as Steve came out to support the "Play For Luke" Fundraiser…. Steve Johnson Sr. made everyone he interacted with feel like they were the most important person in the room. He just made you feel special."
Angel Lopez, renowned tennis coach from San Diego:
"RIP Steve Johnson Sr. He will be missed. One of the greatest guys I have ever known."
Christopher Lau, Brand Ambassador at Babolat:
"I had the pleasure of hitting and training with one of our top American's fathers last year in LA where Steve Johnson grew up and started tennis. He was a great guy, genuine, knowledgeable, caring for all his students, and just a great personality to be around."
Bill Patton, noted Northern California tennis coach:
"Steve Johnson Sr. was always available to anyone. He encouraged me a lot. He will be sorely missed throughout the tennis community and beyond. Reflecting back, I stood a little taller and puffed out my chest a bit when he referenced a conversation he and I had during his talk at Stanford."
"Such sad news. We lost one of the great ones today... Steve Johnson Sr. a great coach and a great man. He will be missed."
Craig Cignarelli, noted Southern California tennis coach:
"So often in life, we run into people who make an impact on our own lives -- a word, a perspective or even a way of living. Twenty years ago, Steve Johnson Sr. smashed into me with his integrity and wit. That collision re-routed me in ways which made my life a more positive experience. As he passes on to a better place, I know he will go on, doing the same to many others. You are already missed, old friend."
Ashlynn Hall, former student:
"It's so crazy to me that my coach of 10 years has just passed. He was my inspiration and my driving force for so many years. I'm so saddened and shocked to hear that he won't be around anymore."
Dave Borelli, former USC women's coach:
"I was so lucky to get to know him in the last couple of years and I am so sad that I won't get to continue to develop my friendship with him. He was the kind of man who was always there to help you, give you some great advice, and encouragement. I can't tell you how much he wanted to help me with my different events or anything I had going in Mission Viejo. He was obviously a great coach but he was a greater man. He really is a big loss for anyone who knew him. Kind, humble, caring, outright just good guy... he paid his dues and he deserved to enjoy more time on this earth."
Lisa Goodman Stone, Publisher of Parenting Aces:
"My heart is breaking for Michelle and the kids. Steve Johnson Sr., you will be so greatly missed. What a treasure of a man!"
"Coach Steve was of the best people in the sport of tennis. Sacrificed a lot to help Stevie get to where he is today. Wonderful man #RIPCoach"
Via the Internet/blogs:
Colette Lewis, ZooTennis.com:
"I considered Steve a friend and also a model for tennis parents everywhere. He was optimistic, kind, intelligent, thoughtful, supportive, yet he was also unafraid to speak his mind. And although he was a tennis lifer, he possessed a keen sense of perspective and was always appreciative of what the sport had given him. When around him, you couldn't help but feel his happiness, both in the sport and in his life."