Ernie Johnson Jr. Inspires Teams at Dr Pepper TEN Classic Luncheon

An incredible weekend of high school basketball tipped off on the afternoon of Feb. 5 with a message of love, gratitude and faith from famed broadcaster Ernie Johnson Jr. at the Mountain View Auto Group Luncheon to open the Dr Pepper TEN Classic at McCallie.

Mr. Johnson is the host of “Inside the NBA” on TNT, where he does his best to keep control amid the antics of co-hosts Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal and Kenny Smith, and he shared some of the more funny moments from the show to open the luncheon. However he brought a more serious message to inspire to the players from McCallie, Oak Hill Academy, Chattanooga Central and Hamilton Heights, as well as the many guests who came to the luncheon at Walker Forum in the Sports and Activities Center.

Mr. Johnson is the son of former Atlanta Braves broadcaster and Milwaukee Braves pitcher Ernie Johnson Sr., and his address at McCallie was titled “An Unscripted Life” to reflect the joys that living life in full regardless of the ups and downs one faces along the way.

With two days of basketball about to begin, Mr. Johnson urged the athletes to remember that “sometimes the game isn’t the most important thing.” Rather, looking for special moments and ways to connect with those around you are what will create the lasting memories and impact in life.

These special moments of unexpected joy are what Mr. Johnson calls “blackberry moments” after an incident he experienced in little league baseball as a child.

Mr. Johnson also discussed some of the challenges in his life, from his battle with cancer to raising his adopted son Michael, who struggles with several physical problems yet still brings joy to his family and everyone around him.

“I wouldn't want to change a thing because it's taken me places I never would have gone,” Mr. Johnson said of his life. “I just want to live in the moment and leave a legacy for my grandkids.”

To conclude his remarks, Mr. Johnson urged his audience to live in such a way as to make every situation in life better because you were there and left the the athletes and coaches with three things to remember in life and sports.

Add value.
Trust God. period
Never fail to stand in awe of how God connects the dots.

Mr. Johnson’s visit to McCallie was the fitting start to a great weekend of basketball. Oak Hill Academy — the No. 2 high school team in the nation — won both its games, and had a strong performance by Warriors guard Lindell Wigginton, who also won the Lamp Post Group Dunk Contest and the Platinum Financial Funding Three-Point contest.

McCallie played well in its loss to Oak Hill on Friday, and bounced back to beat Central on Saturday night in front of a sell-out crowd on the final night of the event.

The first-ever Dr Pepper TEN Classic proved to be a huge success, giving Chattanooga basketball fans a chance to see some of the best high school players and teams in the nation at McCallie. The interest of fans and the great experiences had by all four teams in 2016 lays the foundation for even better things in coming years.