Hall of Fame basketball player Marques Johnson, born February 8, 1956, went on to become one of the most distinguished players in NBA history, where he was a five-time all star.
Johnson was born in Natchitoches, Louisiana and raised in South Los Angeles. He played high school basketball at Crenshaw High School under legendary Head Coach Willie West, winning the Los Angeles City Section 4-A Division Player of the Year in 1973.
Johnson later attended UCLA under the guidance of legendary coach John Wooden. In his sophomore season in 1974–75, Johnson helped lead the Bruins to Coach Wooden's 10th and final NCAA Men's Division I basketball championship. Johnson continued to excel and would go on to win the first John R. Wooden Award in addition to the USBWA College Player of the Year and every major award that season as the nation’s best collegiate basketball player. Johnson became Coach Wooden’s last all-american. Johnson also majored in Theater Arts at UCLA. In 1996, UCLA retired his number 54.
In 1977, Johnson entered the NBA draft, drafted third overall by the Milwaukee Bucks, who were coached by the renowned Don Nelson. Johnson helped lead Milwaukee to five division titles. In his second season, Johnson was the NBA’s third leading scorer. An additional fun fact, Johnson coined the term point forward, a position played out of necessity in 1984. During the 1984 playoffs, Milwaukee became short on point guards due to injury. Coach Nelson instructed Johnson to set up the offense and Johnson responded, “Ok, so instead of a point guard, I’m a point forward.”
He played seven seasons with Milwaukee before finishing his NBA career with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Golden State Warriors. Johnson has returned to his NBA roots, currently a basketball analyst for Milwaukee Bucks. In his efforts to serve the Milwaukee community through positive philanthropic endeavors, Johnson believes it is his responsibility to give back to the city that poured into him.
After his playing career, Johnson became no stranger to the big screen, he acted in many films such as White Men Can’t Jump, Blue Chips, Speechless and Forget Paris. On the TV screen, Johnson appeared in a myriad of shows including Castle, Boston Legal, Moonlight, LA Law, A Different World, Hanging With Mr. Cooper and The Sinbad Show. He has also served as an analyst since the late 1990’s and is regularly seen on Fox Sports and NBA League Pass, and analyst for Milwaukee Bucks telecasts on Fox Sports Wisconsin. In 2018, Johnson won an Emmy Award for his work on Bucks broadcast as the top analyst in the Midwest region. Johnson continues to put his Theater Arts major to use by writing screenplays and short stories under his own production company, Point Forward Productions.
Johnson has five sons, Kris, Josiah, Joshua, Moriah and Cyrus. Kris, like his father, played basketball at Crenshaw High and UCLA. Marques and Kris are the first father–son combo to be honored as Los Angeles City Section 4-A Player of the Year. They are also one of four father-son duos to each win an NCAA basketball championship and the only ones to accomplish it at the same school. Josiah also played basketball at UCLA, and later helped create the Comedy Central show, The Legends of Chamberlain Heights. Moriah, former star of the BET Reality Show Baldwin Hills, is putting his Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy to use, while simultaneously pursuing his acting career. Joshua has appeared as an actor in film and television. He’s also worked as a production assistant for Adrian Court Productions. Cyrus continues the basketball legacy at Sam Houston State. Johnson also has two daughters. Jasmine is an accomplished tennis player. Shiloh, excels at basketball, golf and tennis. Johnson credits his supportive source and backbone to his wife of 20 years, Leeann.
John R. Wooden Award
1977, Inaugural Winner
2019 WISCONSIN HALL OF FAME
husband and father
5 sons and 2 daughters