Student-athlete allowed to return to field after FHSAA ban

Luther Johnson V says racial slurs were hurled at him during game

By Trent Kelly - Reporter

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - A promising South Florida student-athlete has been cleared to return to the playing field after he was originally banned from all high school sports earlier this year.

Officials said Luther Johnson V took part in two rough lacrosse hits, which led to the ban. But his attorney said he was being bullied by other players, who were shouting racial slurs, during one of the games.

The state said the two lacrosse hits were clearly unsportsmanlike.

But Johnson's attorney said the yearlong ban was unfair and would potentially cost him several lucrative scholarships.

"So today, justice has been served," Johnson's attorney, Rawsi Williams, said.

There was an outpouring of emotion from Johnson's family moments after a judge granted a temporary injunction, allowing him to play sports at the private Christopher Columbus High School.

"It is a feeling of relief now that I'm able to just play now with everybody," the teen said.

The 17-year-old dual football and lacrosse star was permanently sidelined earlier this year after the Florida High School Athletic Association determined he took part in two unsportsmanlike lacrosse plays.

One took place during a game against Belen Jesuit Preparatory School and the other occurred during a game against Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Johnson said he was being bullied by the players from the MSD team, who were shouting racial slurs at him right before the hits.

His attorney on Tuesday argued that the ban was unfair and would hurt Johnson's chances of getting recruited to a university for athletics.

"With him being a senior that has a perfect GPA, recruiting letters of interest in both football and lacrosse, letters from 15 universities across the nation, including Ivy League schools, there was no other remedy," Williams said. 

Attorneys for the state athletic association argued that the ban was warranted.

"Something bad happened to this young player, and I agree that it was bad. But it wasn't us, the FHSAA, that did it," one attorney said.

The judge ultimately sided with Johnson, clearing the way for his return to the field this year.

"I'm ready to get back on the field with my brothers and play this game tomorrow," Johnson said.

Tuesday's ruling is temporary and will only last while the underlying case continues to work its way through court.

While the state does have a right to another hearing, a date has not yet been set.

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