When Randy Johnson was on the mound, he was a terrifying sight for opposing hitters. Standing at 6’10,” he possessed a fastball that reached triple digits and an electrifying slider that was impossible to predict. He was so menacing that his wife, Lisa, was afraid to talk to him on days he pitched.
You may think a player with such a description would be a loner in his personal life, but for Johnson, it’s just the opposite. The Big Unit, who is about to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, has a wife and four children who supported him throughout his unbelievable 22-year career. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about his family.
1. He Has Been Married to His Wife for Over 20 Years
Johnson, a second-round pick by the Montreal Expos in 1985, met his wife Lisa (née Wiehoff) at a charity golf event when he was still with the organization. The couple married in November of 1993, an apt celebration after Johnson enjoyed the best season (308 strikeouts, second in Cy Young voting for the Seattle Mariners) of his young career.
After he won his 300th game nearly 16 years later, he gave the game ball to Lisa, a fitting gesture towards the woman who had been with him for every one of those victories.
2. His Second-Oldest Daughter Is a Volleyball Star
Johnson, a bit unsurprisingly considering he’s 6’10” and his wife is 6’0″, isn’t the only athlete in the family. His daughter Willow, the third of four children in the family, is a burgeoning volleyball star. A soon-to-be senior at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Scottsdale, she plays club for AZ Storm and has committed to the University of Oregon.
Volleyball Magazine named her one of the Top 25 underclassmen in the nation to watch.
“She has the ability to put the ball wherever she wants on the court,” says her coach. “She is a strong blocker and will also be important for us in the back row. She has grown a lot in the last year and has become a leader on the team. We will rely heavily on her this fall.”
3. He Has 4 Kids With His Wife
Randy and Lisa have four kids in total: Sammy (born 1994), Tanner (born 1996), Willow (born 1998), and Alexandria (born 1999).
Tanner, who is the only boy and now attends the University of Arizona, was the San Francisco Giants bat boy when his father won his 300th game.
“I’m just happy that my family and friends were able to come,” said Randy. “My son being bat boy today, these are the kind of moments that I relish the most. My family’s been with me the whole time. They’ve seen what I’ve done.”
4. He Had a Daughter Before He Was Married
In 2006, it was reported Johnson had a daughter, Heather, with Laurel Roszell, who he dated before his wife. The relationship ended when Roszell was pregnant in 1989, but the news came to light when Johnson attempted to sue Roszell for just over $70,000 in child-support payments.
The New York Post later reported Johnson had never met Heather.
5. His Brother & Father Passed Away When He Was Still Playing
Tragedy struck Johnson twice during his playing career. The first came on Christmas day of 1992 when his father, Rollen “Bud” Johnson, passed away after suffering an aortic aneurysm.
“After he passed away,” Johnson said, “I seriously thought about giving baseball up. I enjoyed the thrill of telling my dad how good I was on a given night. When he passed away, I realized I had no one to call.”
Fourteen years later, his brother, Gregg, died from a brain aneurysm at the age of 51. Johnson, who was one of six kids in the family, talked about the difficulty of losing his brother:
To have your brother pass away in front of you, that’s not easy. He had a stroke, and I came to see him (in the Bay Area). I was with him for three days. He was responding to doctors the first day and squeezing my hand and everything. Then, 48 hours later, the swelling on the brain took over. He stopped responding. He passed away in front of all of us.
Pitching in pain for most of the year, Johnson had one of the worst seasons of his career, compiling a 5.00 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 33 starts.