Early Life


Andy was born in Franklinton, Louisiana in 1931. At an early age he watched his family work long dreadful hours in cotton fields that was sure to became his fate as well. His father was estranged from his mother who tragically died when Andy was only six years old. His oldest sister Mildred would eventually move both to North Hollywood, California. The 1940’s witnessed a remarkable input of blacks migrating from the south to many northern states escaping the enforced segregation which denied blacks equalities. Mildred married Mr. Carl Cole and found work as a maid to the Hollywood stars. She, Andy and Carl were one the first black family to live in North Hollywood, California. Living in a white community void of southern segregation and racism gave Andy an opportunity not many Black Americans would experience during that era.

North Hollywood High School

Eager to play ball at any cost, he would play in his bare feet on the streets of North Hollywood. It wasn’t until he played with the varsity team in high school that his coach presented him with his first pair of basketball sneakers. He excelled quickly as a player forcing the school to change venues to accommodate the crowds that would draw to see his amazing talents. He was also one of the first black students to attend North Hollywood High which was also void of overt racism. At this early age he discovered the game of basketball and became a gifted and a talented athlete. With this newfound gift, Andy experienced something different, a social classism for talented athletes. 

University of Portland

One day while playing on a local court, Andy was noticed by some college players who informed their college coach about this remarkable young athlete. Andy was immediately swept away to the University of Portland having no high school diploma in hand or any concept of college. He was the one of the first Black Americans to attend this university and broke many of the school records in the game and the high jump. It was also the first time the Portland Ducks beat other major universities in the Pac 10.  Many of his school athletic records still stand to this very day. He was eventually inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame, 1991.

Copyright 2019 The Andy Johnson Foundation

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