Keyshawn Johnson, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers star wide receiver, revealed the death of his 25-year-old firstborn daughter, Maia Hightower-Johnson, on Monday.
Johnson, who played for the Bucs from 2000 to 2003, announced the news on Twitter on Monday evening. “It is with incredible sadness that I have to share the news about the passing of my beautiful daughter, Maia,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “Maia as my firstborn child, has been the joy of my, and her mother Shikiri’s life.”
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.
— Keyshawn Johnson (@keyshawn) March 15, 2021
Johnson didn’t share the cause of death according to the Orange County Register’s Adam Grosbard. The three-time Pro Bowler asked for privacy about his daughter but welcomes the support for his family. He focused on what she meant to him and Maia’s mother and siblings in his social media posts.
“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,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “We are heartbroken and devasted by her loss. Shikiri, Maia’s siblings, our family, and me appreciate your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.”
Johnson also has a son, Keyshawn Jr., who he had with his former wife, Shikiri Hightower. Per the New York Post’s Mark Fischer, “Johnson has three younger children — London, Shyla, and Vance — with current wife, Jennifer Conrad.”
Condolences from Johnson’s former teammates, colleagues, and fans have poured since he shared the news.
Hightower hasn’t shared publicly about Maia’s passing and last had an Instagram post three years ago about her daughter turning 22 — a tribute to their journey together. Condolences for Maia have poured in on that post, too.
Hightower and Johnson had Maia while the two were still at USC in 1995, four months before Johnson became the top pick in the 1996 draft.
“We went from inconspicuously driving you around campus in a beat-up, used Honda to life in a fishbowl, all eyes on us, without us truly understanding what that meant,” Hightower wrote. “Our once private dysfunction was suddenly on blast, all of it playing out as folk’s entertainment.”
“My fearless, beautiful, intelligent, well-traveled, resourceful daughter, my mini-me, throughout our journey, we literally have been growing up, figuring life out, together,” Hightower continued. “Have we made mistakes? Absolutely, but I believe God allows us to make mistakes, for us to learn, to understand how to win.”
Johnson’s NFL Career
Johnson, who currently works as an ESPN NFL analyst, helped the Bucs win the franchise’s first Super Bowl in the 2002 season. He played a key role in the Bucs’ playoff run with 14 receptions, 195 yards, and a touchdown.
The New York Jets drafted the former USC star with the top pick in the 1996 draft. He also played for the Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers in his 11-year career.
The Bucs obtained Johnson in a 2000 trade with the Jets, which the New York Times’ Judy Battista called “one of the most stunning trades in Jets history.” Johnson also became the highest-paid receiver in the league at the time with an “eight-year, $58 million contract” per Battista. In four seasons with Tampa, Johnson caught 298 passes for 3,828 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Overall, Johnson had 814 receptions, 10,571 yards, and 64 touchdowns in his career.
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