Meet Johnny

2022 Friendship Games Ambassador from Detroit

July 28, 2022


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Johnny FG 2022 2

I’m Johnny Harris Jr. and I’m 17 years old, born and raised in Detroit Michigan, and now I live in Harper Woods, just outside Detroit. I’ve played a lot of sports so far in my life. My first sport is baseball, and it’s my best sport. I started playing basketball when I was in third grade but I didn’t start getting seriously into it until middle school. That’s when I met PeacePlayers. They came to my school when I was in seventh grade, and I feel like I get better and better every time I play with them. The main coach that’s been helping with my skills is coach Doc and a few other coaches along the way. That’s how I got here now. I’ve been feeling like I’m at my best right now, but I feel like I have so much more room to improve. I just can’t wait to go on this trip and see other people’s skills and leadership.

Q: What's the one thing that you'd want people to know about you?

I just want them to know, like, I'm a really friendly guy. You know, sometimes I might not look like it. I might look serious, but I'm really friendly, a really nice guy and a really understanding person. And if there's anything they want to talk about, they can talk about it to me. I'll try to listen to you.

Q: Do you have a special talent that most people don't know about?

I would say skateboarding, but everybody knows that now. I guess, when I tell people that I play baseball, it's a little surprising because I'm mostly athletic for basketball, but I do really good in baseball, too. I play mostly outfield. I know a little bit more about first baseman.

Q: Who's your hero? Why?

I say mostly my parents, because they really take care of me and they take me to places. Even though it's a struggle, they still take me to places and my dad helps with everything, like working. And then he also raised me to be a really good man.

Q: What do you think are the most important attributes of a leader?

Communication and putting everybody before you. And what I mean by that is do stuff for everybody that makes them happy before you put yourself first. Because if you put yourself first, I think you make yourself selfish.

Q: What are you most looking forward to about Friendship Games?

I'm really looking forward to meeting the people over there and to play basketball against people from different states and countries. I think that's like a really cool opportunity to have to play against people in other countries and see how they play, too.

Q: Will it be your first time on an airplane? In another country? If so, what are you looking forward to about visiting another country? How do you feel about traveling abroad without your family?

No, the last time I was on a plane was to visit Chicago for the 2019 Regional Friendship Games. The last country I went to was Puerto Rico, and I went over there to meet family members. But that was way back. It was like when I was a little kid, so I barely remember the whole experience. But I do remember going to Puerto Rico and meeting family over there. This will be my first time traveling abroad without my family. It makes me a little nervous because it's 11 days, but it sounds short, but I feel like it's going to be very long. Yeah, I should be fine. I should be fine. Yeah, it will be. I'll be fine.

Q: Is there anything you're nervous or unsure about going to the Friendship Games?

I feel like it's really cool, but also scary at the same time because there's a lot of stuff that can happen. But you don't, you know, you don't want to worry about all the bad things, just worry about the good things and have fun while you're there and just see all the different stuff that they do over there. And then different foods, different people and culture and look more into their culture and see how they celebrate it.

Q: Why do you think PeacePlayers wants to bring together 130 young people from around the world?

Oh, I never heard that one before. I feel like they want to bring us all around each other to see the other people, not only the people from the U.S., but the people from the other sites meet each other and have fun with each other and just play basketball. Because that's the whole point of PeacePlayers is they bring basketball to people. They bring people to basketball to have fun and bring each other together to make leaders. I think we're all going to learn to be better people and better leaders out of it. And grow to be more communicative instead of being all quiet. Because the world do need leaders right now. So I feel like that's what they're trying to get us to get out of it.

Q: If you could do anything you wanted when you grew up, what would it be/what's your biggest dream for the future - for yourself, for your family, for your community?

For me - What I would like to do in the future towards other kids to help them be better - I would like to pass on my knowledge, like the stuff that I learned and the basketball skills that I learned. And if it's baseball, the baseball skills that I learned. I’d like to pass that on to the younger generation to make them leaders at a young age. For my family - I wish I could take care of my family and try to help them so they won't have to work hard, because my parents worked hard for me too. So, I want to work hard for them and make their lives easier because I'll be older and I'll be old enough to take care of myself. So that takes one thing off their hands. So I want to help them more towards the future. My dream for my community’s future is to be better people. Because you know how communities, they can be like different things. They like different things, and there could be big problems. Well, I just hope that there's less of that. In my teaching our future generation better so that they don't cause those same problems like we did. So I like that for our community.

Q: What's it like in your city/town/neighborhood? How would you describe it to someone who's never been there?

So in Detroit, there are different sections of it, there's different miles and all that. But I live in Harper Woods, which is not far from 12 mile. It's like a suburb or a community just outside. But I also live literally on the street where the borderline between Harper Woods and Detroit is. So I'm very close to Detroit, but I used to live in Detroit when I was a kid and when I was in middle school. The people are really nice over here. They kind of supported me in a way because I remember I was skateboarding outside for the first time, and a lot of people were saying, “You're good, you're doing great, you're gonna be good.” And then they keep talking about it every time they drive by. So I’ll say, like, the community is very supportive. I always hear a lot of parties around the area. It's a really nice area to be around. I just really like the area. It's like a nice suburban area because if you go deeper past where I'm at in Harper Woods, there's really nice big houses around there.

Q: If you could time travel for one hour, where would you go? What would you do?

I guess I'll try to time travel back to the old days before COVID. And then try to have fun on those days. Yeah. Yeah, I’d do that.

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