Ernie Johnson Jr. has been a fixture in the world of sports for more than 40 years. He’s the voice you hear announcing Major League Baseball games and the seven-time Emmy Award-winning cohost of “Inside the NBA.”
He was recently asked by Nick Saban, Crimson Tide’s head coach, to give a speech to the Alabama football team, and his words are inspiring millions of people to “be a better human.”
Outside of work, Ernie is a devoted husband to his wife Cheryl and has raised six children, four of whom are adopted. In his speech, Ernie imparted the wisdom he’s picked up after a lifetime of joy and heartbreak with his family.
“Know your role,” he urged the players. “There’s value in everybody.”
To prove this point, Ernie shared the story of how he and Cheryl met the first child they adopted. In 1991, Cheryl visited a Romanian orphanage after learning about the country’s crisis of abandoned children. The very first child she met was Michael, an almost 3-year-old with special needs. According to Ernie’s autobiography, a nurse told Cheryl that the boy was “no good,” and she shouldn’t adopt him. She called her husband in tears.
“Bring him home,” Ernie told her. Back in the U.S., their family welcomed Michael with open hearts and arms. When he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder with no cure that causes muscles to gradually weaken over time, they accepted him just as he was.
Throughout his life, Michael has accomplished more than anyone ever predicted. He learned to sign “love you, too,” a favorite phrase of his. Then a high school basketball coach saw his inherent value and added him to the team. At one point, his family’s heart swelled when they saw the entire crowd signing “love you” to Michael during a game.
“This kid, this Romanian orphan, and this coach from Indiana, somehow got together in a gym in Braselton, Georgia, and taught this huge school about love,” Ernie said.
“When you wake up in the morning, how am I going to make someone else’s life better today?” Ernie asked the athletes.
It’s just as simple as that, isn’t it? Our actions can completely turn someone’s day — or even life — around!
Grab a tissue and watch the speech that is touching countless hearts in the video below. Don’t forget to share this powerful story of love and acceptance with your friends.
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