DWTS Alum Mourns the Loss of His Daughter

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Former NFL player and Dancing With the Stars contestant Keyshawn Johnson revealed some heartbreaking news this week on social media when he posted that his oldest child, a daughter named Maia, 25, had died. The cause of death was not immediately disclosed.

Johnson Called Her The ‘Joy’ Of His Life

In emotional posts on Twitter and Instagram, Johnson wrote, “It is with incredible sadness that I have to share the news about the passing of my beautiful Daughter Maia. Maia, as my first born child, has been the joy of my, and her Mother Shikiri’s, life. She came into our lives just as we were both coming of age as adults and has been a constant beloved presence for both of us. We are heartbroken and devastated by her loss. Shikiri, Maia’s siblings, our family and me appreciate your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.”

He added, “We also all appreciate your support and respect for our privacy as we move forward. Thank you all, God Bless. Keyshawn Johnson, Sr.”

Maia’s mother is Shikiri Hightower, who was married to Johnson from 1998 to 2002. According to an Instagram post Shikiri made in 2017, Maia was born on December 17, 1995. In that post, Hightower called her daughter “fearless” and “resourceful.”

Hightower wrote:

My fearless, beautiful, intelligent, well-traveled, resourceful daughter, my mini-me, throughout our journey, we literally have been growing up, figuring life out, together. Have we made mistakes? Absolutely, but I believe God allows us to make mistakes, for us to learn, to understand how to win. And my precious child, with you plus God, that’s all you’ll continue to do, win, even when it feels like you’re losing. For every pain, remember, it’s strengthening you, making you better, stronger. Continue to follow your light. You are destined for greatness.

Johnson, who competed on season 17 of Dancing With the Stars alongside pro partner Sharna Burgess, has four other children — Keyshawn Jr., whom he also shares with his ex-wife Hightower, and London, Vance and Shyla with his current wife, Jennifer Conrad, according to People.

In a separate Instagram post of the two of them with their mother, Keyshawn Johnson Jr. honored his older sister with an emotional tribute. He wrote:

I lost the one person in my life that is full blood. I lost my big sister Maia. Maia was undoubtedly my biggest role model growing up. I wanted to be nothing but a clone of her. I always thought she was the coolest person, had the coolest clothes, listened to the best music. I don’t know what I’m going to do without you. I just wish we were as close as we used to be. I’m sorry for that and I love you so much. I will see you soon.

Fellow Players and Sportscasters Were Quick to Offer Words of Support

Johnson has been an NFL analyst and commentator for ESPN since 2007. The network issued a statement of support, writing, “Our thoughts are with Keyshawn and his family as they deal with this unthinkable tragedy. He has the full support of his ESPN family.”

The official Twitter account of the New York Jets, which is where Johnson played from 1996 to 1999, wrote, “Please accept our deepest condolences. Our thoughts are with you and your family, Keyshawn.”

USC Football, where Johnson played in college, wrote, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. We are all behind you during this tough time.”

ESPN reporter Field Yates added, “Incredibly sad to hear this, Key. Sending love and strength to your family,” and sports writer Jemele Hill wrote, “So very sorry for your loss.”

Former NFL linebacker Kirk Morrison wrote on Instagram, “Said a prayer for you and your family, brotha,” and sportscaster Natalie Kalibat added, “Keyshawn, I am so sorry to hear this. I will be keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. Stay strong. Fight On forever.”

Dozens of other players and sportscasters also sent messages of support and love.

Dancing With the Stars has not yet officially been renewed for season 30, but if ABC does renew it, expect it to premiere in September 2021.

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