Tank's family shocked by recent developments
December 20, 2006 (WLS) -- "All the stuff they were saying about him has proven to be false."
Tank Johnson's grandfather offers support for his grandson following a week of trouble and personal tragedy for the Bears defensive lineman. It resulted in the death of his bodyguard and his suspension from this week's game.
Family members say, despite his recent problems, Tank Johnson is a good man.
They are shocked by this week's developments, including a raid on Johnson's suburban home, his arrest on weapons charges and the murder of his friend in a nightclub.
Terry "Tank" Johnson spent the first six years of his life in Gary where both his mother and father were also born. In fact, most of Johnson's extended family on his father's side still live in northwest Indiana, and they provided ABC7 with an image of the Bears' defensive lineman that is drastically different than what we have seen in local media during the past week.
The menacing mug shot of 6-foot-3, 315 pound "Tank" Johnson is a stark contrast to the smiling, three-month old infant photographed 24 years ago as he was bathed in his aunt Sandy's kitchen sink.
"Tank in the sink" is a family legend; Johnson refers to it in a autographed action shot of himself as a Chicago Bear sacking Brett Favre. The boy who the family called T.J. was always big for his age, but never threatening or violent, before he moved to Arizona with his father while still in elementary school.
"He's a very nice young man, very sweet and loving, kind to the family, his children, his nieces and nephews, his and parents, all of us," said Armelia "Cookie" Johnson, Tank Johnson's aunt.
Johnson family members in Gary are stunned by the recent coverage of Terry's troubles: the raid on his home in Gurnee, his arrest on weapons charges and the arrest and murder shortly thereafter of Tank's best friend, Willie Posey.
Aunt Cookie is outraged by what she calls the media's attempt to cast her nephew as some of thug.
"I'm angry, but that's the media. What can we do? They don't know him," said Aunt Cookie.
Grandparents Harvey and Alice Johnson have been married 67 years and have nine children of their own. Eighty-seven-year-old Harvey had a man-to-man talk with his grandson over the weekend.
"I just told him he's got to change his company, try to be with different people," Harvey said.
Tank's children and their mother have gone back to Arizona and his father will leave Wednesday or Thursday.
With his best friend Willie Posey dead, his grandmother is concerned that Tank will be alone in Gurnee for the next few weeks. She wishes her grandson would come visit.
"I could give him a hug or pat on the back. You need that," said Alice Johnson, Tank Johnson's grandmother.
The family notes that Terry Johnson spent most of his childhood and his teen years in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, before spending four years at the University of Washington where they say he held a B-plus grade point average. They insist nothing about his background suggests thug or gangster.
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