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Valentine's Day Bingo
February 24, 2024

Hardships lead to hard work: Tayvian Johnson, the leap from 24th Street to 38th

Hardships+lead+to+hard+work%3A+Tayvian+Johnson%2C+the+leap+from+24th+Street+to+38th

Junior Tayvian Johnson, starting forward on the Augustana men’s basketball team, cites his family and his coach Grey Giovanine as the positive influences leading him to apply, and succeed, at Augustana. Photo courtesy of Benjamin Payne.
Junior Tayvian Johnson, starting forward on the Augustana men’s basketball team, cites his family and his coach Grey Giovanine as the positive influences leading him to apply, and succeed, at Augustana.
Photo courtesy of Benjamin Payne.

From East Moline to Rock Island: Tayvian Johnson may have only moved several minutes from home to attend Augustana, but his journey has been long. Junior and starter for Augustana’s basketball team, Johnson has been acknowledged by friends and coaches as one of the most promising students on campus.
Before attending Augustana, Johnson said he moved over 15 times with his single mother and three siblings, sometimes without a place to go.
“Life was difficult growing up,” Johnson said. “I have two brothers and a little sister, and for the majority of our lives, it’s only been my mother supporting us. I’ve lived in over four cities, and sometimes we didn’t have a place to live.”
Johnson said it was hard for his mother to support their family financially, but she always made it work.
“Money has always been tight and sometimes situations got rough, but my mom always made sure we had what we needed,” Johnson said. “I don’t complain a lot about how bad we had it growing up because I knew people that had it worse…Everyone has their problems, it was just mine had a dollar sign to it. But, I loved my childhood, honestly. Hardships brought me and my family close and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Johnson realized at a young age that he needed to take action to improve his life.
“It’s hard to really leave the environment I come from,” Johnson said. “I know a lot of people that I grew up with that aren’t doing much with their life. They’re caught in this social trap just like their parents. That’s just how it is where I’m from and that was a future I really didn’t want, so I did what I had to so I could make something out of myself. Growing up where I did, it’s easy to fall victim to your environment. But, I can thank my mom for keeping me out of that before I really knew what I wanted for myself.”
He knew working hard in school was the most important step to reaching his goals. And after meeting Augustana basketball coach Grey Giovanine, he learned basketball could be equally life-changing.
“Really it started because of basketball,” Johnson said. “Coach G. was the main reason (I came to Augustana). He started scouting me early and being honest and supportive with everything I was doing. I really liked the basketball program but I really fell in love with the school….It feels like one of those things that were just meant to be.”
Johnson started playing basketball as a child, but first started to take it seriously in high school. This is his third year playing for Augustana and his most promising, according to Coach Giovanine.
Giovanine said Johnson made it to where he is today because of his “high character and values.”
“His family went through difficult times,” Giovanine said. “But he was focused in classes and became a leader in his school. And because his mom was such a great influence with him, in spite of difficult challenges, he has values in him that should be applauded.”
He has high energy on and off the basketball court, according to Giovanine.
“His smile lights up the room,” Giovanine said. “People gravitate towards him and his personality exudes warmth. And, they see how hard he works.”
Johnson said he will continue working to improve his basketball skills, and no future set-backs will stop him from reaching success.
“I love playing basketball, and if I can get paid to play that would be the life,” Johnson said. “If that doesn’t happen I’m going to go to medical school. There is a time for anything, and when it’s time for me to hang up my jersey and start a new chapter in my life, I will.”
Giovanine said he sees a bright future in store for Johnson, now 21 and working towards a degree in Pre-Med and Biology.
“I hope the best lies ahead for him,” Giovanine said. “He could be one of the greatest success stories of our college.”
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Junior Tayvian Johnson, standing in front of his grandmother’s house on 24th Street in East Moline. Johnson moved over 15 times, sometimes without a place to go, growing up. Photo by Stephanie Petkovsek.

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Hardships lead to hard work: Tayvian Johnson, the leap from 24th Street to 38th