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Selma native, Cincinnati Bengal hosts fun day for more than 100

Current Cincinnati Bengal Michael Johnson hosted an event Saturday that featured a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, volleyball games, a bouncy house and more for area youth. -- Taylor Holland

No matter how successful Selma native and current Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson gets, he said he’d always remember where he came from and continue to do everything he could to help area youth.

He backed up his word Saturday, as he hosted ‘A Fun Day in the Park,’ which featured a bouncy house, throwing games, a 3-on-3-basketball tournament, volleyball games and more for children of all of ages.

“It’s just a blessing to be in a position to be able to do stuff like this,” Johnson said. “I just want everybody to have an opportunity to come out, get some food and some water, play some games and just have a good time with each other. I’m a fun-first type of guy. When I go to work, I work hard. When I play, I play even harder. So that’s how I live my life and I just want to try to extend that to the whole community.”

More than 100 area residents attended the event, which ran from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Ronnie Sharp Memorial Park.

“I came out today to help and support the children,” Africa Tyler, who helped coach volleyball at the event, said. “I want to show them that there are things you can do that don’t involve violence, and I want to help everyone out here have fun.”

The Cincinnati Bengals drafted Johnson, a former Dallas County High School football standout, in 2009. Last season was Johnson’s most successful year to date, as he recorded 42 tackles, six sacks, one forced fumble and one interception.

He said he was thankful for all of his friends, family and especially the community for helping him host the event.

“I’m glad to be from here, I’m proud to be from here and I want everybody to know that this is the place that made me,” Johnson said. “I want to give back when I can and show the appreciation I have for this area and the people here.”

To the youth attending Saturday’s event, Johnson preached staying true to themselves and never giving up.

“When you have an opportunity to make something of yourself, don’t forget where you came from,” he said. “Always remember to put back into what developed you. One by one, we can make change.”

Although no one’s path to the National Football League is the same, Johnson did offer advice to those interested in a career in professional sports.

“Keep God first in your life, and then, whatever you do, give it 100 percent,” he said. “Always stay positive, no matter what’s going on in your life or your environment. You can’t control what goes on around you, so don’t worry about it. Stay positive and believe positive and good things will happen. Put a smile on, stand tall and go conquer the world.”