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Family Tragedy Brings Brother, Sister Closer On Court

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A family tragedy forced a DeLaSalle high school basketball player to move her game to another level.

Tyseanna Johnson’s brother had a heart attack on the court and it was during his recovering that she dedicated her career to him, leading the Islander to a state championship.

“We’re like Bonnie and Clyde, we do everything together, like we’re inseparable,” Tyseanna said.

Tyseanna and Jarvis Johnson were born 14 months apart.

But the bond they share makes everyone think they are twins — a bond that was made even stronger after Jarvis experienced a life-changing incident.

“I was at practice and we were doing a couple of drills,” he said. “I really don’t know but they say as I was going, I was dribbling the basketball and I just collapsed. They just said my heart skipped a couple of beats.”

Tyseanna and her coach, who also happens to be her aunt, Faith Johnson-Patterson, were together when they heard the news.

“I was at practice when I got the call,” Tyseanna said. “He wasn’t breathing and they pronounced him dead for seven minutes, which really hit home.”

Doctors allowed more than 300 of Jarvis’ friends in to see him, because, frankly, they didn’t expect him to make it through the night.

“I think it was the hardest week of my life, like, when I first seen him, it was devastating,” Tyseanna said.

Jarvis was in a coma for a week.

“Once he got out of the coma, the first thing he asked was where was his basketball shoes, and they told us he would never play basketball again, so I wanted to do it for him,” she said.

Her coach, Johnson-Patterson, said that was a major moment in Tyseanna’s basketball career.

“That did it for her ,because he cared so much about basketball. He just wanted his tennis shoes, and that right there was a turning point for her as an athlete,” she said. “She just had a different appreciation for the game of basketball from that day forward.”

That was the day, Tyseanna says she found the strength to play.

“Everything I do that has to deal with basketball, it would be for him,” Tyseanna said.

Both Tyseanna and Jarvis credit their older brother, Tymore, with their basketball abilities. Tymore is a standout for Minnesota State-Mankato.

Tyseanna worked hard, watching her older brother and video of her younger brother as inspiration.

“I watched his basketball games from like two days before he went into cardiac arrest so everything he did I tried to do,” she said.

While she worked, Jarvis quickly recuperated.

His steps and missteps empowered her even more.

“After we left the hospital, everything he did, he had a basketball in his hand,” she said. “He tried to dribble but he really couldn’t so I just kept going.”

After missing six games caring for her brother, Tyseanna got her team up and running.

“I looked at him throughout the warm ups. I looked at him in the crowd and seeing him makes me strive to do better,” she said.

She helped them navigate through the state tournament to bring a championship home for the Islanders.

“I think during the state tournament I averaged, what, 20 points per game and nine rebounds per game,” she said.

That game was a high point in her young basketball career, but can’t compare to the feeling she gets when she’s on the court with her brother.

“It’s the best feeling,” she said. “He’s way better, and he just wants it more than anything.”

Jarvis said he had a defibrillator put in and now, feels as good as new. And now he’s really back, starting at guard for the Islanders as a freshman.

Just like his sister did for him, he is dedicating his comeback season to her, as well as Tymore.

“Their relationship is special and they’re just cute together and you’re just so happy that they have each other,” Johnson-Patterson said. “It’s just true love is what you see.”

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