"Food became such a comfort that I weighed almost 200 lbs"- South Carolina guard Raven Johnson on the aftermath of ACL tear in her freshman year

NCAA Womens Basketball: Final Four National Championship-Iowa vs South Carolina
Raven Johnson speak to the media

South Carolina guard Raven Johnson had an extremely difficult road leading up to the national championship. In the cover story by "The Players' Tribune," Johnson said she was in a dark space after her injury.

In her debut season for South Carolina in 2021, she only played two games due to an ACL injury. She exited the court against South Dakota with 3:57 to go in the first quarter and was out for the rest of the season.

Johnson also spoke about how excited she was to be on the team, being the No. 2 player in her class when she graduated. However, the injury took a toll on her.

"I couldn’t have been more excited to be on this team. I had so many goals for my freshman year. I couldn’t wait to get on the court. Instead of a breakout season, I tore my ACL in my second game ever.
"I remember screaming at my trainer, yelling, “I’m never going to walk again,” almost in tears. The recovery felt so slow. I couldn’t be patient," said Raven Johnson. "So, if I wasn’t in rehab, I was passing the time in my room, eating. Food became such a comfort that I weighed almost 200 lbs. when I returned to basketball-related activities."

Raven Johnson on her South Carolina teammates

Johnson also spoke about how head coach Dawn Staley motivated the team.

"One day after practice, Coach Staley told us to make a circle. Everyone held hands, got in real close … and then she said, “Don’t let anyone break this circle.” No media, no outsiders … there was no one but us." said Johnson.

She admitted that there were doubters all along but she continued to trust the process and put in the work.

"With all the work we put in during the summer, we knew we were the best. Honestly, I wish you guys could have seen us so y’all could see how far we’ve come … how we earned every moment we got this season."
"I remember dying in those workouts, some of us were throwing up. It didn’t matter how tired we were, we knew those were the days that mattered most for us. We’d make sure to stay after practice to put up shots, work on the little things individually … we were locked in."

Raven Johnson has proved to be one of the best players on the court for South Carolina, leading them to a national championship. Her story is an inspiration and there's more to come from the 5'9" guard.

Do you think she can lead South Carolina to back-to-back championships? Sound off in the comments section below.

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