A South Florida teen who was suspended twice from lacrosse and is being suspended from football during his senior year of high school is turning to the courts in the hopes that he can get back on the field.
Less than three weeks until the season opener for the Columbus High School football team, and linebacker Luther Johnson remains on the sidelines. Two unsportsmanlike penalties in lacrosse last season prompted the Florida High School Athletics Association to suspend the rising senior until the spring, keeping him off the lacrosse and football fields.
Now his family is suing the association and filing an emergency injunction to get him back in the game.
"Those items are necessary to stop the board's actions in its tracks so Luther can play while the lawsuit is determined," attorney Rawsi Williams said Friday.
Johnson was suspended for five games for the first lacrosse incident in a game against Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and his second penalty came in his first game back against Belen Jesuit. Coaches, community activists and lawyers are now rallying around Johnson, saying the association went too far in suspending him for so long.
"Being involved in high school and college athletics for the last 30 years of my career, having Luther miss his senior season would be devastating to his recruitment for college to play athletics," Coach Dave Dunn said.
The association claimed that Luther's combined violations led to a level 3 violation, which made Luther ineligible for any high school sports for a year.
In a statement to NBC 6, they said the plays were unsportsmanlike, displaying malicious and hateful nature toward an opponent beyond the normal scope of the game. They also said this blow against a Belen player was violent and resulted in an injury, which the family disputes.
Attorneys for the family said they tried to settle the issue out of court, but said it's their only option now. They hope the community will also support Luther.
"We're just asking you to rally around Luther and this situation, and make the calls to FHSSA and ask that they overturn the suspension," mother Antoinette Johnson said.