Former NFL Player Keyshawn Johnson Mourns 'Unthinkable Tragedy' Of Daughter’s Death

In deeply sad news, former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson (who played for the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, and Carolina Panthers before retiring 15 years ago) announced the death of his 25-year-old daughter Maia Hightower-Johnson on Monday. No cause of death was revealed but the father, who shared Maia with his ex-wife Shikiri Hightower, wrote to followers on Twitter:

“It is with incredible sadness that I have to share the news about the passing of my beautiful Daughter Maia. Maia, as my first born child, has been the joy of my, and her Mother Shikiri’s, life.”

Born just months before the family’s life turned upside down when Keyshawn became the number one draft pick in 1995, Maia was a founding part of the family that saw her dad go from USC college student to NFL superstar. Reflecting on his early days as a parent, Johnson continued:

“She came into our lives just as we were both coming of age as adults and has been a constant beloved presence for both of us. We are heartbroken and devastated by her loss. Shikiri, Maia’s siblings, our family and me appreciate your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.”

Her siblings include 22-year-old Keyshawn Jr., as well as younger additions to the fam from Keyshawn’s current marriage to Jennifer Johnson, London and Vance (Shyla Joy) Johnson. The 48-year-old added:

“We also all appreciate your support and respect for our privacy as we move forward. Thank you all, God Bless. Keyshawn Johnson, Sr.”

Upon hearing the heartbreaking news, ESPN shared a message of condolence to their analyst, writing on social media:

“Our thoughts are with Keyshawn and his family as they deal with this unthinkable tragedy. He has the full support of his ESPN family.”

Back on Maia’s 22nd birthday, Maia’s momma took a moment on Instagram to rehash what it was like becoming a parent at the young age of 19.

“I was 19, a sophomore at USC, your dad was 22, like you are today. We were so young, wanting nothing more than to be your parents. Four months later, your dad became the number one draft pick, our lives were forever changed. We went from inconspicuously driving you around campus in a beat up used Honda to life in a fish bowl, all eyes on us, without us truly understanding what that meant. Our once private dysfunction was suddenly on blast, all of it playing out as folk’s entertainment.”

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Their bond was clearly thick as thieves as the fashion entrepreneur who studied broadcast journalism in school included some sage advice for her growing girl:

“My mini-me, throughout our journey, we literally have been growing up, figuring life out, together. Have we made mistakes? Absolutely, but I believe God allows us to make mistakes, for us to learn, to understand how to win. And my precious child, with you plus God, that’s all you’ll continue to do, win, even when it feels like you’re losing.”

Such a devastating loss. Sending all our love to those mourning Maia. May she rest in peace…

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