ATLANTA — Atlanta’s very own Inky Johnson is one of the most successful motivational speakers in the country. He said his humble beginnings of growing up in Kirkwood keep him grounded to this day.
“I had big dreams, goals and aspirations to do something great. Not only for my family but for my community,” he said.
Johnson attended Crim High School where he was a star football player. While he played his heart out on the field, he came home to a tough reality.
His mother worked double shifts just to put food on the table and he lived in a two-bedroom home with 14 people. Johnson said that was the fuel he needed to become successful.
“I take pride in this city. It makes me who I am. Growing up in Kirkwood. Growing up on the eastside of Atlanta. Attending Atlanta public schools, it meant a lot to me,” he said.
The Crim High School graduate aspired to become an NFL star. And as a University of Tennessee recruit, he was destined to make his dream come true.
“I was projected to be a draft pick. I was projected to make millions of dollars,” he said.
But on September 9, 2006, a routine play on the field didn’t go according to plan. A simple tackle left him with a career-ending injury to his right arm. From that moment on, Inky Johnson was forced to re-evaluate his goals in life.
“When my arm got paralyzed in the process, it wasn’t an option of stopping. It wasn’t an option of going back home. I went to disability services, I learned how to write with my left hand and graduated,” he said.
Johnson started sharing his story to anyone who was willing to listen. That’s how he found his true purpose in life – being a motivational speaker.
Fast forward 13 years later, he now gets booked to speak in front of large crowds of up to 50,000 attendees.
Johnson says he’s still the same person who played at the University of Tennessee. Life has just taught him to captivate different crowds. Johnson travels across the country as one of the most requested motivational speakers.
“Don’t let the investment that people made in you go void. First and foremost, never allow a situation or circumstances to define your life,” he said.
He’s now dedicated to helping others tap into their potential, the same way he found his greater purpose.
“If I could touch or impact one life if I could play a part in one person’s journey. It’s all worth it for me," he said.