Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson is one of three players – along with the 49ers' Arik Armstead and Colts'Zaire Franklin – being recognized for his commitment to social justice through his non-profit, Kevvy's Vision as part of the NFL's Inspire Change initiative.
Two years ago, Johnson helped found Kevvy's Vision to honor his best friend and high school football teammate Kev'Vion Schrubb, who was killed by gun violence on Aug. 8, 2021.
In a feature with the NFL, Johnson spoke about the moments that led him to creating the non-profit organization alongside Kev'Vion's family members, including his mother and aunt.
"I would say the biggest thing for me is taking a tragedy that happened and being able to reverse it and bless others with it." Jaylon Johnson
Johnson recalled text messages between he and Kev'Vion, who shared his various goals like starting his own clothing brand — which he accomplished in 2018 by creating the "No Love" line — building a business, helping the community, donating to hospitals and more. Following Kev'Vion's death, Johnson went back to those conversations and realized, "we have the blueprint right here."
Johnson has made it his mission to continue executing that vision in memory of Kev'Vion in their hometown of Fresno, California.
When reflecting on what Inspire Change means to him in connection with Kevvy's Vision, Johnson pointed to all the people who have been positively affected by the organization. That impact is felt through events like the Winter Wonderland, which gives back to families through gifts and activities during the holiday season, or the annual golf tournament, which raises money for the Kevvy's Vision Athletic Scholarship.
"I would say the biggest thing for me is taking a tragedy that happened and being able to reverse it and bless others with it," Johnson told ChicagoBears.com. "When you think of death, I think it can break people, but it allowed me, allowed his family to become closer. We've all been able to come together and inspire change and in the Fresno community, being able to see families, being able to provide meals, food, gifts for Christmas, the numerous amount of giveaways, fundraisers and things like that, to be able to truly impact and change the community. So I think just no matter what happens, I think there's always room to inspire change."
Johnson has remained vocal about Kevvy's Vision through his platform with the Bears, representing the non-profit in the My Cause My Cleats initiative the past two years.
By being part of the NFL's national Inspire Change campaign, Johnson believes it will bring more awareness to not just Kevvy's Vision but other non-profits that are committed to social justice.
Johnson also takes pride in representing Fresno and finding ways to shine a more positive light on his community.
"Just coming from Fresno, California, being a smaller city – when you think of Fresno, nobody really thinks of too many good things coming out of the city," Johnson said, "but to just be able to inspire change in Fresno on a national level and get the national recognition, it means a lot to me, the nonprofit that I have, everybody that's put in countless hours, being able to recognize them as well, putting in the work, and then also the Fresno community, that change is coming.
In the NFL feature, Johnson said he is honored to have the opportunity share his best friend's vision with the world and "continuing to let his soul still walk this Earth."
Johnson feels confident that Kev'Vion would be proud of where his family and Johnson have taken his mission along with all the lives he's touched.
"I think he loves it and I still think we feel him in everything that we're doing," Johnson said. "Just being able to take some of the things that he wanted to do and was doing already and being able to execute them, I think that's even part of the part of the name as well — Kevvy's Vision, what he wanted to do.
"Just going in and not just doing something under his name, but actually executing what he wanted to do, I think it's just more authentic. It just feels right, feels more purposeful for us to do and gives us a lot of motivation when we go back and put all these events together and putting in countless amount of hours. I think it just all goes back to we're doing this for Kev and doing what Kev wanted to do."