Former NFL Star Keyshawn Johnson Announces Death of Daughter Maia

Former NFL player Keyshawn Johnson wrote that he is "heartbroken and devastated" as he paid tribute to his daughter, Maia, who died at age 25

In this March 6, 2014, file photo, former NFL player Keyshawn Johnson looks on during the Clemson football Pro Day in Clemson, South Carolina. Johnson announced on Monday, March 15, 2021, that his daughter died at the age of 25.
AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt

Keyshawn Johnson is mourning the death of his daughter, Maia Hightower-Johnson, who has died at age 25.

The former NFL wide receiver shared the tragic news with his followers on Monday.

"It is with incredible sadness that I have to share the news about the passing of my beautiful Daughter Maia," he wrote, calling his first born child "the joy" of his life.

He and Shikiri Hightower, his wife from 1998 to 2002, brought Maia into the world in 1995.

Johnson said on Twitter, "She came into our lives just as we were both coming of age as adults and has been a constant beloved presence for both of us. We are heartbroken and devastated by her loss. Shikiri, Maia's siblings, our family and me appreciate your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

"We also all appreciate your support and respect for our privacy as we move forward. Thank you all, God Bless."

No cause of death was given.

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ESPN released a statement in support of Johnson, who now works an ESPN analyst.

"Our thoughts are with Keyshawn and his family as they deal with this unthinkable tragedy. He has the full support of his ESPN family."

He is also dad to Keyshawn Jr., 22, as well as London, Vance and Shyla Johnson. The football pro married Jennifer Johnson in 2014.

Maia's mom, Shikiri, is a fashion entrepreneur and studied broadcast journalism at the University of Southern California. She gave birth to Maia when she was a 19-year-old student at USC and Keyshawn was 22.

In 2017, Shikiri shared their story on Instagram for Maia's 22nd birthday.

"We were so young, wanting nothing more than to be your parents," she said. "Four months later, your dad became the number one draft pick, our lives were forever changed. We went from inconspicuously driving you around campus in a beat up used Honda to life in a fish bowl, all eyes on us, without us truly understanding what that meant. Our once private dysfunction was suddenly on blast, all of it playing out as folk's entertainment."

In the post, she called Maia "my fearless, beautiful, intelligent, well-traveled, resourceful daughter," and "my mini-me.

"Throughout our journey, we literally have been growing up, figuring life out, together," Shikiri said.

The China Royal fashion founder added, "Have we made mistakes? Absolutely, but I believe God allows us to make mistakes, for us to learn, to understand how to win. And my precious child, with you plus God, that's all you'll continue to do, win, even when it feels like you're losing. For every pain, remember, it's strengthening you, making you better, stronger. Continue to follow your light. You are destined for greatness."

Before retiring nearly 15 years ago, Johnson played for the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers.

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