In Memory of Johnny Scott Long
Johnny Scott Long was called many names by the people fortunate to know him—Dad, Papa J, G’Pa, JL, and Coach.
“One of Johnny’s greatest gifts was that he really connected with and listened to people," says his wife, Sara. "It was just one of the ways Johnny demonstrated great care and respect for the people he encountered. He lived by the Golden Rule: to treat others as you would like to be treated. Johnny lived that every day.”
“Johnny modeled the Golden Rule in his immense love for his blended family. He was always an ear that would listen to anything and everything and a heart that always truly cared about everything you would share with him," she says. "It was a true blessing to share a smile and joke with him because his smile and laugh were so very contagious. And he would give you the shirt off his back if necessary.”
On a more personal note, Sara shares: “I always thanked him for 'taking the shot' on us being together. He would laugh because that’s as much basketball terminology as he’d ever get out of me and he thanked me for giving him the ball to take the shot. We taught each other that taking a risk and loving deep is so rewarding.”
Johnny also modeled the Golden Rule in his work with young people, and for many years coached Little League and high school boys basketball. When sportsmanship and respect were not displayed on or off the field/court, anyone could be benched—no matter how good of a player they were. Johnny's players knew Coach Long supported them, even when he demonstrated tough love. He expected everyone to treat each other as equals and never bully or disrespect anyone.
Johnny cherished being remembered by the athletes when they grew up. “We volunteered at the Special Olympics in Davis and ran into some of the athletes a few years back,” recalls Sara. “They remembered him and it made his day.”
Johnny occasionally dressed up as Santa Claus during the Christmas season too. If one of the kids who sat on his lap asked for something he could provide—a warm sweater, help for a loved one—Johnny and his colleagues would arrange to fill the need.
With the support of many of Johnny’s family and friends, Sara has opened a charitable fund—Johnny’s League—in his honor at the Sacramento Region Community Foundation. Sara and Johnny had long talked about starting a private foundation to give back to the community at some point. Their goal was to establish a charitable vehicle that would allow them, together, to inspire others to live by the Golden Rule that was so important to their family.
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Johnny’s childhood was challenging, recalls Sara. He was bullied as a child and mentally abused well into adulthood. Johnny’s League will assist in providing children and young adults the help he didn’t receive: assistance with their dreams or any care that they need. "Our dream is to provide them that one special event or item or support that they can look back on to help them through a day that they need a ray of sunshine, to let them know someone cares and everything will be okay," says Sara.
Before he passed away, Johnny wrote what he had learned and what sort of person he strived to be. Sara lovingly calls it The Golden Rule Paper, the final words of which are excerpted below:
In conclusion, my actions and my actions alone dictate the way in which I think, act, feel and impact those I communicate with. Embracing an understanding that we are all different makes me sensitive to what I say, do, and think. A person must be open, truthful, and respectful to all you meet, and yes, even those we despise. The moments we are alone is when self-reflection will help us think through our thoughts, and it is this reflection that will help guide your next actionable moment. Our world is extremely diverse, and we must embrace this huge cornucopia of human beings we meet and communicate with.
The insights gained from this course has helped and will continue to help me on my journey. The journey I take each day must consist of getting better as a person, human being, father, spouse, or co-worker. Self-development is the key to my vehicle and this course has helped me reorganize my priorities and has also reinforced my principles of the Golden Rule and doing what is right, and the guidelines I had in place have only been enhanced, as I will always think before I speak, or act, as my actions will affect someone else. We must remember we can always be a better human being.