Notebook: Johnson returns after shooting
At least one person among the 13,524 in attendance at the HP Pavilion on Saturday night was grateful to simply be there. Rising Strikeforce heavyweight Lavar Johnson was among those roaming the arena floor, just a month after nearly losing his life in an apparent random act of violence.
“Can’t keep me down,” said Johnson, a 32-year-old native of Madea, Calif. “I’m just happy to be alive and happy to be here to see the fights.”
Johnson was one of five people struck when a gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon in an assault on a Fourth of July family reunion gathering in Bakersfield, Calif. His cousin, Anthony M. Johnson, 37, died in the attack.
A 15-year-old girl allegedly involved in the incident, Laquiria Foreman, was arrested on July 17 by Bakersfield police and charged with murder and attempted murder. Two teenage males believed to be involved in the shooting remain at large.
Johnson was shot twice in the abdomen. He spent several hours in critical condition before stabilizing after successful surgery. Johnson spent two weeks in the hospital before being released.
“The only scary moment was the actual incident,” said Johnson. “They took my cousin’s life. That’s not an easy thing to digest. But as soon as I woke up in the hospital, as soon as my head cleared, I knew I’d be back.”
Johnson had just begun to gain notice on the national MMA scene when his life was nearly taken. On a May 15 Strikeforce card in Fresno, Calif, Johnson scored one of the year’s best knockouts with a unique one-punch, 18-second masterpiece against Carl Seumanutafa. Seumanutafa shot for a takedown, Johnson sidestepped it and hit his opponent with a low uppercut as he careened to the mat. It was Johnson’s fifth straight win.
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