Temeka Johnson is all about hope.
Off the court, the Louisiana native and WNBA champion started a foundation in 2009, named after the very thing she exemplifies. With H.O.P.E. (which stands for Heaven Open People’s Eyes), Johnson’s goal is to inspire youth, and with the publication of her second children’s book Temeka’s Choice, she’s doing just that. Johnson’s book is also a testament to the importance of the 40th anniversary of Title IX, telling the story of a young girl's basketball dream.
Johnson describes this book as a “re-boot” of her first children’s book, Decisions, Decisions, Decisions, taking a new direction and a fresh start. The book's illustrations pay homage to the neighborhood where Johnson spent most of her childhood, and feature street signs, her former gym, and even the house she lived in as a youth.
“It’s more of me,” Johnson said. “It’s more of who I am and what I was. It’s about me as a young child trying to make sure I do the right thing and choose the right thing. The book's illustrations show where I grew up, the same area, the same buildings, and the same house.”
Johnson was in love with the game of basketball at a very young age. Whether it was playing against the guys in her family or her friends at school, she was always happiest when she had a basketball in her hands. In the book, however, the young Johnson is forced to make a tough decision that could have a serious consequence: taking away her opportunity to play basketball.
“The one choice Temeka makes in this story not only affects her, it affects her teammates – and I think she learns from that,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s grandmother is the other central character, and it is no surprise that the book is also dedicated to her memory. In the book, Johnson’s grandmother helps guide Temeka to make the right choice and through some ups and downs, she not only learns how to make the right choice, but in doing so, learns a valuable lesson.
“That age group (elementary school) is faced with different choices, and the choices are becoming greater,” Johnson said.
Brandon, a young boy who’s new to the neighborhood, is Temeka's main antagonist. “There’s a guy in the story who doesn’t believe that girls can play basketball,” Johnson said. “He puts his foot in his mouth, and then Temeka gets a chance to show him what she’s capable of.”
Most importantly, the book is a product of Johnson’s efforts to share her story with a younger generation, especially young girls who have an interest in sports. Johnson does a wonderful job of balancing the characters while delivering a powerful and positive message to children, and providing an inspiration to young girls.
Yes indeed, Temeka Johnson is all about hope.