Inquoris “Inky” Johnson was a dynamo defensive player at a college football powerhouse . . . until a life-changing accident.
A sportswriter* relates what happened:
“In more than a dozen years as an SEC football beat writer, the most tragic moment I ever saw in person was on September 9, 2006.
“Tennessee was playing Air Force at Neyland Stadium, and what was expected to be a lopsided game was close in the final moments. About that time, an Air Force player caught a pass near the sideline and a Tennessee cornerback arrived to deliver a hit.
“It didn’t look that bad when it happened, but that cornerback, Inky Johnson, wasn’t moving after the whistle. All the signs of a serious injury played out quickly on the field, with concern on faces before Inky was carted off to a chanting crowd.
“I’d interviewed Inky earlier that week, and enjoyed it. He was a funny, playful, talkative kid from Atlanta. And while football is a game featuring high-impact collisions by very fast, very strong individuals, you see this sort of frightening moment and usually find out the player is going to be okay.
“But we didn’t hear that about Inky.
“Grown, tough men—coaches and players and others around Tennessee’s team—were emotional about the topic for weeks afterward. A life-threatening injury caused Inky to lose the use of his right arm, ending a promising football career in the blink of an eye.”
Inky’s greatest challenge didn’t occur the day he was permanently injured on the field at the University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium, though
After he suffered a horrific injury—his right arm was paralyzed—his football career ended. Inky decided to help others through his experience. In effect, Inky turned his experience into a testimony and a “launching pad” to share with others. As a motivational speaker, Inky illustrates the choices one is faced with, underscores making the most of life, and encourages others to make something positive out of challenges in a very unique way.
From defensive back to a speaker sharing his life’s story and his faith
The sportswriter describes Inky’s “new moves”:
“I still think about Inky Johnson a lot, but it’s not because of the final football play of his I once witnessed. It’s with an immense amount admiration because of what he has done with his life since that tragedy.
“Inky got a master’s degree in sports psychology and became an author and motivational speaker, regularly delivering “Ink-spirations” through social media and his talks.
Inky’s message from his experience is one of hope, perseverance, discipline, and faith. Here’s an example illustrating how Inky “brings it”: “Can we be committed to the process without being emotionally attached to the results?”
In a 2018 interview with the Midland Reporter-Telegram in Texas, Johnson explained the message he wanted people to receive from his speeches.
“It’s about persevering, but also paying it forward for the next person. We’re given mountains to overcome and then we have to help other people overcome their mountains by guiding them by sharing our experiences. It’s all about giving back to the world and giving back to humanity.”