http://www.freep.com/story/sports/nba/pistons/2015/10/24/detroit-pistons-stanley-johnson-karen-taylor/74542412/“Forever in my heart
Always watching my back
My angel from above
I’m the luckiest kid in the world”
— Stanley Johnson
Those words appeared on the Detroit Pistons rookie’s verified Twitter account Aug. 2.
After a long fight, Johnson’s mother, Karen Taylor, succumbed to breast cancer at 54. The tragedy came a little over a month after she saw her son fulfill a dream by becoming an NBA draft pick.
When Johnson picks up a basketball, she’s in his thoughts. When he looks in a mirror, he sees features that look like her more and more as he grows older. She is there when he laces up his basketball shoes, a fashion passion he got from her.
But don’t expect any dramatic displays from Johnson to honor his mother in his rookie season.
No special rituals. Nothing for public display. He’s taking his cue from his mother.
“That’s all cute and stuff, but that’s all for show,” Johnson told the Free Press. “My mom always told me, ‘Give me my flowers so I can smell them,’ so doing stuff when she’s in the grave now is you trying to make yourself feel better for what you didn’t do.
“I’ve done everything I can to remember her. When I pray or whatever before games, it will be to myself. Nothing to say, ‘Look what I did.’ It’s for me, for my mentality, for my game.”
Because of NFL players wearing pink accessories during games, many know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Johnson has made a point to contribute to the cause. He helped fundraisers at Arizona, and the Pistons have auctioned off signed basketballs and shoes from Johnson for the cause.
He plans to do more, but isn’t looking for a pat on the back.
“I’m not really a guy that wants to make headlines,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to go to the hospital and have a camera following me. I’d rather do my givebacks to the community (when the media isn’t around). That’s just a personal thing for me.”
Johnson credits his mother in many ways. She gave him her basketball genes. She is a member of the Jackson State Hall of Fame, and she played professionally overseas.
But it goes beyond that. He thinks his determination comes from her.
“I owe her to just go out and play every night hard and just compete my ass off,” Johnson said. “My mom never believed in quitting anything. I never quit anything. I never left a team. That’s weird that I never, ever quit a team. Baseball, soccer — never quit anything and always gave everything, my hardest effort. And I’ve always won. Playing hard and the right way will make her smile.”