FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – About to enter his fourth season with the Chicago Bears, Central High alum Jaylon Johnson has established himself as a quality player in the NFL.
But his work off the field might be even more impressive.
He regularly takes part in the NFL team’s community activities, and has already created two non-profit organizations, including one that continues to honor his best friend Kev’Vion Schrubb.
Growing up in Fresno, Johnson and Schrubb were like family.
“Oh brothers, yes, always together, his mom’s house, my house,” says Tiffany Carter, Kev’Vion’s mother.
That close bond continued at Central High School where they were teammates on the football field.
“We grew up playing football together, sports together and against each other, just really growing up in the neighborhood,” says Jaylon, who has started 39 games in his first three years with the Bears. “(I) call his mom ‘mom’ and he called my mom ‘mom,’ just a really close friend that we got close to through sports.”
Jaylon went on to star at the University of Utah, and the talented cornerback was eventually taken in the second round by the Bears in the 2020 NFL draft.
Kev’Vion meantime, played a year of football at a small college in Colorado, before returning to Fresno where he continued to display a generous spirit.
“He didn’t judge anybody,” says his mother. “He came up with this clothing brand (No Love Clothing), so he would literally give away as much as he sold. He volunteered to go out to Valley Children’s Hospital to pass out shirts. He would go out to the Poverello House and set up a table with his friends, and they would be out there feeding the homeless.”
But on August 8th, 2021, tragedy would strike, as Schrubb, only 22 year’s old at the time, was killed in a shooting near the Fresno State campus.
Nearly two years later, the shooting remains unsolved.
“Honestly sometimes, I stare at the door for hours and I think he’s gonna walk in,” says Carter.
His physical presence may be gone, but with Jaylon’s help, the spirit of Kev’vion is living on through his best friend.
“I think at the end of the day,” says Johnson. “It’s really just about keeping his name alive, keeping my friend Kev’Vion’s name going and relevant, and knowing who he is.”
“We wanted to tell people his story, and not just that he was a victim of violence,” adds Carter.
A short time after his death, Jaylon approached Tiffany about using his NFL platform to start Kevvy’s Vision, a foundation which strives to continue Kev’Vion’s spirit of helping others, especially under-privileged communities.
“So far we’ve been able to donate to Central Unified, and sponsor backpack drives, sponsor the Central football camp,” said Jaylon recently, during the 1st Annual Kevvy’s Foundation Golf Tournament at Eagle Springs Golf & Country Club in Friant.
That generosity, along with his outstanding character and outstanding play, made Johnson the Bears nominee for the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year Award this past season, an award combining excellence on the field, with excellence off of it.
“I’m playing for some people bigger than me for sure,” says Johnson.
And when Jaylon and the other 31 Man of the Year nominees were honored during the week of the Super Bowl in February, and on the field before the game’s kickoff, Jaylon made sure a special guest was there to share in the moment.
“Jaylon called me (and said), ‘hey ma, you wanna go to the Super Bowl,” said Tiffany. “When I saw Jaylon on the field, I cried. I cried. I was not on my seat. I was definitely right up there like looking, but yeah, it definitely brought tears of joy to my eyes.”
“Being somebody that has a good heart,” says Johnson, who has also used the NFL’s “My Cause My Cleats” campaign to raise awareness for Kevvy’s Vision and his other charity, “Rare Breed Sports,” an organization that among other things, helps to cover some of the costs of playing sports for low-income, high school student-athletes. “I think that outweighs all the football accolades, and what I’ve done on the field. I think it carries on for generations, having a good heart and being able to spread love.”