After a car crash that almost left him paralyzed, DerMarr Johnson prepares for an uncertain future.
Updated: March 9, 2003, 9:57 AM ETBy By DerMarr Johnson with Cal Fussman, ESPN The Magazine
In the early morning hours of Sept. 13, 2002, a Mercedes-Benz S600 veered off a road in southwest Atlanta and rammed into some trees. The crash broke the neck of the driver, very nearly paralyzing him. The driver was DerMarr Johnson of the Hawks. The Magazine has been following DJ for five years, ever since rumors swirled that he'd be the first high school junior to jump to the NBA. He ended up going to the U. of Cincinnati, playing one year there before Atlanta drafted him with the sixth pick of the 2000 draft. This season, his third with the Hawks, was supposed to be the 22-year-old, 6'9" shooting guard's big opportunity. It is also the year after which his three-year, $5.6M contract will expire. The accident was the start of a personal and professional whirlpool that's still spinning. And DJ is trying to make sense of it all.