More than sports and entertainment: Member writes book to inspire youth


BRONX — Lamarr Johnson is on a mission to show young people they hit the jackpot with their brains.

Johnson, a lottery marketing representative at the New York State Gaming Commission, drew from countless conversations he had with his son, Nicholas, and a nephew to ultimately write and self-publish an illustrated, 33-page book he hoped would challenge their peers to think beyond what media, entertainment and social media platforms were telling them about attaining success.

At the time, his nephew had graduated from a prestigious high school for the performing arts while his son, a seventh grader, dreamed of a career with the NBA or NFL.

The book, “You Are More Than Sports and Entertainment,” by the first-time author, encourages youth to think beyond the images and lifestyles of successful actors, entertainers and athletes.

“You can be a botanist or a dentist and still enjoy the finer things in life,” said Johnson. “We are underrepresented as a culture in so many of these occupational areas. I wanted to highlight them in my book.”

Raised in the Bronx by two accountants, Johnson lived a few blocks away from Yankee S

tadium. While he loved sports, he knew he was better suited for a career that involved mathematics and not a Yankees pinstripe uniform.

“I love sports, but I knew my strong point was math,” said Johnson. “It’s easy to pick up a ball or a mic, but I want young people to use their brains. Our brain is the strongest muscle we have and it’s taken for granted.”

It wasn’t mathematically difficult to surmise that the number of colleges in three of the largest states in the country alone (New York, California, and Texas), surpassed the number of professional teams in sports like baseball, football and basketball.

The sobering reality is that most students will not play professional sports or become major celebrities.

While Johnson is not one to discourage any student from having these goals, he said he just wants to make sure they have a backup plan that will still lead them to success.

“You can still become a dentist that the players go to, or an architect that will design their home,” said Johnson.

Johnson received a warm reception from his fellow CSEA members when he presented the book during the recent Metropolitan Region celebration of Black History Month.

“When we started to discuss the Black History celebration, I told the committee Mr. Johnson would fit in with our theme of generations,” said CSEA Region II Taxation and Finance Local President Felicia McCollough, whose local represents the Gaming Commission workers. “Here was a new-generation union member going about doing his job but also caring about the next generation to come.”

Knowing that there are many young people who are struggling and often lack hope or direction, Johnson hopes his little book can move mountains.

“Hopefully, I can reach them or their little brother or niece to better themselves,” said Johnson. “I may even change someone’s life. But the overall message that I want to get out there is, use your brain.”

David Galarza


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