Welcome our guest NBA sister Indi A Johnson sister of Philadelphia 76ers Center Amir Johnson.
Indi Johnson: Hahahaaa so funny, because my full name is Indi Johnson. However, people call me India, the reason being my middle initial is “A” so once I got to college my professors would see my name on the roll as “Indi A. Johnson” which I guess looks like India if you’re calling roll really fast. So ever since an 18yr old freshman in college, I’ve been known as India LOL. I go by both Indi and India either or is fine with me, a lot of my teammates and close friends just call me “In.”
Indi Johnson: Well I went to college at Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge and once I graduated I immediately flew back home because I was ready to get out of Louisiana. As a 21, 22 year old undergraduate, Baton Rouge was very slow to me and I was ready to get back home to Los Angeles which is a more fast-paced environment. After living in Los Angeles for a few years I decided to go back to school and get my Master’s. Without a doubt Southern University at New Orleans was the only school at the top of my list is that I was familiar with Louisiana and the Southern University school system, a lot of alumni are here in New Orleans and surrounding areas being that Baton Rouge is only 45 mins away (on a good day), and New Orleans is just a great city in general. But that’s how I ended up in New Orleans, graduate school is what brought me back to Louisiana. I love it here it has so much culture and traditions that you can appreciate. As a young undergraduate student, I never realized how much history is here in New Orleans and Baton Rouge and it wasn’t until I became older that I realized is not about a slow or fast-paced environment it’s about what you make of it. As far as Philly goes, I don’t think I would actually live there on a full-time basis because of the weather. Me, and cold weather mixed in with snow here and there don’t mix well lol. I’m a Cali kid through and through so whenever I see anything below 70 degrees I freak out.
Ranisha: About being a Professional Basketball Player. You are a Southern Alum. How tall are you, what was it like playing college basketball, and how do you add playing basketball into your routine?
Indi Johnson: Yes, I’m 6’2 and I was a student-athlete at the best HBCU (Historically Black College University) then went on to the professional ranks playing basketball overseas. I can say it definitely takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice to be a student and professional athlete. You have to put in the extra time to be great and putting in extra time means minimizing activities in your social life, or at times spending time away from your family. There were times where I couldn’t go home for holidays due to basketball-related activities, so therefore I spent those long months away from family in the gym perfecting my craft, getting better mentally and physically. Now that I’m retired I no longer touch a ball, unless I’m rebounding for my brother. After spending so many years playing basketball year around I am enjoying the retired life to the fullest. I enjoy coming to Philly and catching a few of my brothers’ games once or twice a week or whenever I get a break from classes.
Ranisha: How are you able to juggle being a Case Manager, Mentor, conduct Youth Programs, assist with Financial Abuse, and more? What do you do during a typical workday?
Indi Johnson: I’m currently working as a Case Manager for Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana where I started out as a volunteer. Initially going in I had no intent on working a job where I actually had to show up Monday through Friday. I’m currently a full-time graduate student taking 12-15 units per semester and my whole focus was on school. However, I heard that VOA had a mentoring program for youth with incarcerated parents and I knew immediately I wanted to be of help. So within my volunteering time frame, I was able to work with two different programs working with the elderly who were being financially abused, and youth with incarcerated parents. From there the social workers loved my ideas and seen the relationship I started to build with the youth and their parents and immediately wanted to bring me on board as an actual employee. I am now working with young women who have been sexually exploited and human trafficked. I have started a mentoring program for this group of young women to provide support, motivation, and help. I also conduct weekly life skill classes to at-risk youth in the community. My typical workday is super busy, I’m rarely in the office I’m always in the field meeting with other caseworkers, lawyers, judges, teachers, school counselors etc. This job and VOA definitely keeps me busy but I love what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Indi Johnson: Intensive case management is hands-on direct service type of support that you give an individual and their family. With the population, I serve when intensive case management is needed to optimize the individual care of life. I provide each individual with finding housing, health, and mental health needs, developing career plans, educational needs, life skill classes, mentoring, and community resources. This is why I’m never in the office, I’m constantly in the community meeting with other organizations, elected officials, and advocating on behalf of the youth I work with.
Indi Johnson: Yes I have three young girls that I mentor. One is in junior high and the other two are in high school, all three have an incarcerated parent and I have been their mentor for the past two years, and they’re all doing really well and excelling in school. I have yet to mentor any adults at this point it’s just youth mainly because it’s the population that I currently work with. People always come to me for advice and yes I have all the answers (just kidding) but know I try to give honest and genuine feedback and I think that’s what people and my colleagues love about it. I’m as honest as they come so if you want to hear the truth then don’t ask me. At times the truth can hurt but at the same time you can learn from the truth and that’s what makes us a better person.
Indi Johnson: As of now, no. I’m way too busy with school, work and mentoring. But who knows what the future may entail.
Indi Johnson: Sports Management? Nah! Not my thing. I’m into social work, mental health, and advocating for policy rights and policy changes for our youth. Although sports management seems cool, I much rather save the lives of young kids and adults suffering from any kind of injustice.
Ranisha: What are the career paths you would take in the Sports Industry? Why?
Indi Johnson: Career paths in the sports industry…. I would say, a mental health social worker at the college level. I remember when I was a student-athlete at Purdue University we had a Sports Psychologist that we would meet with on a weekly basis. As a freshman, I didn’t understand the importance of that but now as a mental health worker working professional I totally get it now. Stabilizing the mental health is so imperative and if I could get a chance to work with student-athletes to help them understand the severity of treatment and coping skills as it relates to mental health, that would be a great opportunity. I know that some Universities have social workers, psychologist, and other mental health professionals that work with specifically with the athletes and believe it’d definitely much needed especially with the now publicized stigma of mental health and athletes.
Ranisha: Can you see yourself managing your brother Amir? Or working on any projects with him if you haven’t done already. What is working with Amir like?
Indi Johnson: Managing him… no! I barely have time to manage myself (lol). But my brother and I could possibly do something in the near future together. I know he has a passion for working with the youth much like myself so I definitely see a non-profit coming along in the near future. Working with my brother is so chill, I mean the guy is an easy going person. He doesn’t like to argue or cause conflict, and he has a ton of great ideas which makes him the ideal person to work with.
Ranisha: Congratulations to Amir for winning the 2017-18 NBA “Hustle” Award. What was his reaction and how did he feel about it? What are some of the ways you push & encourage your brother to go hard?
Indi Johnson: Thank You. I was so proud of him when he won the award. He actually knew he was up for the award but didn’t tell anyone in the family. We didn’t find out until the day of like everyone else watching the award show. That just shows how cool, calm, and collected he is, like “ hey I’m up for this award no biggie.” Of course when he won the family was super excited. He works so hard on and off the court and to see him being recognized as an awesome big sister moment. I try to encourage my bother as much as I could, I’m the oldest by 2yrs and I feel it is my duty as the big sister to protect and keep him encouraged as much as possible. I try to send an encouraging text here and there and weekly facetime calls to check in on his mental space. I also fly to Philly as often as possible to show support at his games and scream at refs on occasions.
Indi Johnson: To succeed as a brand manager you definitely have to have thick skin, there will be times when you’ll experience highs, low, the good, bad, and the ugly but through all that you have to know how to overcome adversity. You have to be open-minded and ready to tackle any opportunities that may be beneficial to your career. Fear can’t be an option, it will hold you back and stop you from being great. When securing any bag you have to go for it and once you obtain it keep going!
Indi Johnson: The only project I’m working on is my Master’s thesis (lol), I graduate this coming May and I am so excited. In the fall I plan on working on my doctorate while continuing to mentoring and implementing new policies for our youth.
Ranisha: What do you believe your legacy will be? What will ppl know you for?
Indi Johnson: I feel I am currently making my mark on leaving a great legacy by supporting causes that are important to me, mentoring, sharing my blessings with others, and fighting for social justice. I will continue to do so until God is ready for me to come home. I would hope people would know me for always being down for the cause and willing to do whatever it took to help people live meaningful lives.