When Garrett Johnson transferred from Princeton University to George Washington, he changed his jersey number from four to the number nine. It’s common for college athletes to change their
numbers with a change of scenery. For Johnson, the number nine reminds him of the two and a half years he had to take away from the game he loved. Nine represents the number of chemotherapy treatments he underwent to beat cancer and return to the hardwood.
Who is Garrett Johnson?
Johnson’s journey began in high school in Oakton, Virginia, where he scored 1000 points in his high school career playing for both Oakton and Episcopal High School. During
his career, he amassed numerous awards, including the 2019 Concorde District Player of the Year and Second-Team All-State a year later. When it came time for college, he had numerous offers to play at the Division 1 level but ultimately chose to attend and play at Princeton.
During his senior year in high school, Johnson felt tightness in his hip. It was later discovered that the tightness was caused by a benign tumor. Johnson was forced to drop out of college to
focus on cancer treatment. He underwent numerous surgeries and several rounds of chemo. “There were days I felt like I couldn’t walk up the stairs or get out of bed,” he told reporters. Despite his diagnosis, he refused to give up on his dream of playing college
On May 8th, 2023, Johnson announced that he would be returning to the court as a member of the George Washington Basketball team.
“We’re super excited to have Garrett as a part of our program at GW,” head basketball coach Chris Caputo told reporters after his announcement. “He’s an athletic wing that can impact winning in multiple ways on both ends of the floor. His ability to make shots at a high level, combined with his play-making, makes him a tough cover for opposing teams.”
In George Washington’s first game this season, Johnson showed how much of a problem he was for opposing defenses, scoring a team-leading 21 points in his college debut. Check out some of the highlights below.
Since that game, he hasn’t cooled off from the field, averaging 17 points and over 7 rebounds a game. Johnson hopes the impact of his play this season can resonate way beyond the stat sheet.
“The coolest thing for me has been seeing the reactions of people who are going through cancer right now or have family members who are going through cancer and being an inspiration for them,” he told reporters after the game.
Johnson’s return to the court this season has touched the lives of college basketball fans around the world, and that is truly “Greater Than The Game.