Tyler Johnson: Adjusting to Phoenix Off the Court

by Cody Cunningham

“What am I going to do with my kids?”

Every year near the NBA trade deadline fans wait to hear if their team is making a move, which player they are getting and who is going where. But when a player ultimately gets traded, it goes far beyond just exchanging their jersey for a new one.

When then-Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson woke up on Feb. 6 to multiple missed calls from his agent, he had a feeling he was about to have a new place to call home and the first thought that came to his mind was his children.

“My initial reaction was ‘what am I going to do with my kids?” Johnson said.

A father of a five-year-old and a one-year-old, Johnson had to travel across the country to Arizona while his two children remained in Florida.

“My kids are still out there in Miami,” Johnson said. “I’ll have an opportunity to go and figure out a long term plan after the season is over.”

Just as Johnson has to adjust to his new team and a new system, he also needs to adjust his life around his new situation.

“It is difficult just as it would be for any other person to be away from their kids,” Johnson said. “You feel the same way… At the end of the day, we’re still human.”

Johnson understands the nature of the business, but that doesn’t remove the human emotions that any parent would feel in a similar situation.

“There’s nothing that separates us all as people,” Johnson said. “The only thing is just that we get to play basketball. That’s pretty much it. We still all have the same feelings of when you’re away from your children, when you’re away from your family, how that will weigh on you a little bit.”

The Suns organization has worked closely with Johnson to help make the transition as smooth as possible and make sure that he feels comfortable in his new home.

“They’ve gone above and beyond,” Johnson said about the Suns. “Put me up in a place to stay and made sure it’s easily accessible to get my kids here when I can.”

Johnson has a routine of going to the practice court and putting up shots following most games. He was joined by two special guests a recently as he and his children were able to spend some quality time together when they visited their father in Phoenix.

“They really loved it,” Johnson said. “They’ve come down with me the last two nights after the games and shot with me on the court and that’s what it’s all about – being able to be around your kids and they get to watch you do what you love. Then one day, when they’re pursuing whatever it is they’re pursuing, hopefully they can pursue it with the same passion and enjoyment.”

And of course, both children are repping their father’s number 16.

“We were finally able to get them a couple of jerseys,” Johnson said. “We’re in good shape now… They always wear daddy’s jerseys.”

While Johnson continues to adjust to his life off the court, he seems to be fitting in quite well with the newly-formed Valley Boyz on the court. The team had won five of the last eight games that he’s played in while he’s averaging a career-high 4.2 assists in his new role as starting point guard.

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