HOUSTON – Texans rookie cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. didn't know Curtis Walton, a 14-year-old who drowned in Johnson's hometown of Gary, Indiana.
"I saw it on my social media," Johnson said. "So I got in touch with his family and talked to them."
Walton played football at Calumet High School, and his body was found at the bottom of the school's pool.
Johnson talked to Walton's mom on the phone and offered to pay for the funeral.
"His mom is very strong. I can hear it in her voice," Johnson said.
Gary is less than an hour away from Chicago. The city struggles with high crime rates and poverty.
"It was just hard growing up there. It's obviously a rough city. It was difficult the whole time I was there," Johnson said. "So I know what his family feels like. I lost a lot of people close to me, so I know what it's like to be in that position. I've been in that position plenty of times. I just wanted to help out in any way I could."
Johnson, 22, played college ball at the University of Kentucky. He said growing up in Gary made him the man he is.
"I grew up real early," Johnson said.
"I told someone in my interview when I got drafted, I won't be back to my city unless I can bring something back to it. So that's my goal, to bring life back to the city," he said.
When #Texans DB @Lonnie30johnson learned of the drowning of a 14 year old from his hometown of Gary, Indiana, he wanted do something to help the young man's family, so he's paying for the funeral. @KPRC2 pic.twitter.com/w9TQ3fKUZQ— Alex Radow (@alexradow) September 20, 2019