Former Morgan State basketball player Gene Johnson died in his sleep on May 16 while at his home in Hagerstown, Md., according to school officials. Johnson was 24.
The exact cause of Johnson’s death has not yet been confirmed, according to Morgan State’s Sports Information Office. Reports said emergency medical officials were called to his house after he was discovered in hopes they could revive him, but they were unsuccessful.
Johnson graduated from Morgan in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology after serving four years with MSU’s basketball team. The 6-foot, 7-inch, 220-pound forward first joined the team as a walk-on in 2007, and eventually helped the Bears win three Mid-Eastern Conference (MEAC) regular season championships, two MEAC Tournament titles and two NCAA Tournament berths.
“This is a very sad day and a devastating loss of a great young man that we were very proud of,” said MSU head coach Todd Bozeman. “He played four years and started in a couple of games for us. Upon graduation, he started pursuing his master’s degree. Our sincere condolences go out to his family and to all of those who knew him. He will be missed by many friends, teammates and others throughout campus.”
Morgan State Athletics Director Floyd Kerr said Johnson was one of his personal favorites among student athletes and that he will “always remember him fondly as ‘Radar Gene, with the built-in screen.’”
“His sudden loss has sent a ripple of sadness throughout the Morgan community,” Kerr said. “Gene was one of the best examples that gave meaning to the saying ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ because of his significant contributions and dedication to the championship basketball teams he played on. More importantly, he was a classy young man who had a dream to be successful, and I had high confidence that Gene would succeed. He will be missed by all.”