Houston – Johnson Bademosi isn’t about to stick to sports.
The Detroit Lions cornerback and special teams standout is a Stanford graduate and the son of two Nigerian immigrants. He has a unique worldview and isn’t afraid to raise his voice or take action if he feels he can make the world a better place.
“They came here for the amazing opportunities,” Bademosi said. “They came here because they wanted me to have a better life than they did. And they’ve worked very hard.”
Bademosi is at the Super Bowl to take part in a Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) town hall. The program’s purpose is to review lessons learned from activist athletes and examine the next steps to take to continue to drive social change.
“It’s great to be passionate about something, but what do you do after that?” Bademosi said. “It’s also an opportunity for me to learn from other guys, to hear their ideas and see if I should be doing something differently or if I can be helpful to them.”
Like teammate DeAndre Levy, Bademosi is socially active away from the field. Just last month, he traveled to his hometown of Washington D.C. to take part in the Women’s March, a massive demonstration promoting gender equality that coincided with the inauguration of president Donald Trump.
In these divisive times, the reaction to Bademosi’s activism isn’t always positive, but he doesn’t let the detractors bother him.
“That always happen,” Bademosi said. “You can look back to Muhammad Ali. They just wanted him to fight, they just wanted him to go to war, not speak his opinion. That’s always going to happen. You’ll find fans of the sport, but aren’t fans of your ideas.
“People can be hateful and try to offend you in different ways. But it’s fine, they can say what they want to say.”
Bademosi is also in Houston promoting American Football without Barriers, a nonprofit organization started by NFL players that travels internationally to teach kids about football and nutrition. The past three years, he’s made trips to Cairo, Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro.
Later this month, Bademosi is heading to Finland with the group.
“It’s an amazing trip, it’s a lot of fun and it’s an opportunity to do things you care about and make a difference,” Bademosi said. “(We work with) kids from nine or 10 to grown men, who are older than me that love the sport.”
Bademosi, who signed with the Lions as a free agent last season, played a key role in the team’s special teams success. He also started three games at cornerback, recording five pass breakups and an interception.