Wheelchair basketball star Joey Johnson was considered one of the best power players in the world throughout a career that lasted nearly two decades. He was renowned for his intensity and toughness in the paint and his ability to generate plays by creating space for himself and his teammates.
Johnson was a force for the Canadian men’s wheelchair basketball team from 1995 until 2012. Over the course of his career, the native of Winnipeg competed at five Paralympic Games, capturing three gold medals (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, and London 2012), and one silver (Beijing 2008). He also competed at four world championships, coming home with the world title in 2006, and claimed the crown at the 1997 U23 world championships.
He made his Paralympic debut at Atlanta 1996 at the age of 21, and from there used his tireless work ethic, focus, and passion for the game to become one of the best in the world.
One of the best tournaments in his career was at the 2012 London Games, where he averaged 63 percent from the free throw line (the same as star teammate Patrick Anderson) and an impressive 56 percent from the field as Canada took the gold medal
At age eight, Johnson was diagnosed with a degenerative hip disease and he began playing wheelchair basketball the following year after being introduced to the sport by a friend.
Johnson has been around the world with wheelchair basketball. In addition to his exploits with the Canadian team, he played the sport professionally in both Australia and Germany.
In fact, he was a big star with the RSV Lahn-Dill club team in Germany. He captured seven German league titles in eight years and seven of eight German Cup crowns, winning both trophies six times in the same year. Lahn-Dill also collected four Champions Cup championships in that stretch, while reaching seven finals. Johnson was one of the first Canadians to really make a name for himself playing professionally overseas and as such is a recognized star in the sport across the globe.
He has a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he also played collegiate wheelchair basketball.
After he retired from wheelchair basketball following the London 2012 Games, he moved back to Canada from Germany and worked in sales for almost four years. But the sport called him back in 2015 when he accepted an assistant coaching role with the British national wheelchair basketball team. He was on duty for Team GB at Rio 2016.
Two years later he was offered the same position with the Canadian men’s national team where he shares his expert knowledge of the international game and instills his values on and off the court with the next generation of players. Most recently, he was on the sidelines as Canada punched its ticket to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games with a silver medal at the Lima 2019 Parapan Am Games.
In 2013, he became the first athlete with a disability to be inducted into the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame and in 2016 he was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame. One of the most decorated athletes to ever come out of the province, Johnson has always returned to roots, and has helped to reinvigorate the wheelchair basketball community in Manitoba.