ELLISVILLE, MS (WDAM) - South Jones alum Lorenzo Johnson has been back to Ellisville a number of times since his 1993 graduation from the high school.
But Saturday night was a particularly special reunion as the Braves retired Johnson's number 33 basketball jersey.
"Tremendous honor," Johnson said. "Extremely excited. I can't even put in words how excited I am to be back home and them honoring me man. Just extremely happy about that."
After playing college basketball at Colorado State, Johnson went on to have an 8-year professional career playing overseas including the countries of Turkey, China and Russia. Johnson played a season with the Houston Rockets in 2000 and even spent some time with the Harlem Globetrotters.
However, Johnson says one of his proudest achievements is earning a college degree.
"All I wanted to do was to make [my mentors] proud and make the people from the Ellisville community proud," Johnson said. "Just extremely proud that I was able to get my degree, one, and number two, be fortunate enough to go on and play professional because a very small percentage do."
Johnson credits strong mentors in his life including his uncle and former South Jones basketball coach Casey Price for helping him to achieve his dreams.
Ultimately, Johnson says making it to the next level comes down to how hard an individual is willing to work.
"Work hard, man," Johnson said. "There's no substitute for hard work. I put countless hours in this [South Jones] gym right here putting in work. All I knew was hard work. I didn't worry about the newspaper clippings and being on TV and all that. I didn't worry about any of that, I just worked hard. Don't expect for anybody to give you anything. Go out and take it."