MISSOULA — Former Montana basketball star Anthony Johnson passed away Wednesday in Tacoma, Washington. He was 37.
Johnson had been in critical condition since suffering a massive stroke during his daughter's birthday party on Oct. 21. Johnson and his wife, former Lady Griz basketball player Shaunte (Nance) Johnson, have three children together and another on the way.
Shaunte Johnson wrote on Facebook Thursday, "We celebrated our last anniversary and his last breaths cuddled in his bed, blasting our favorite love songs. I am one of the luckiest women to have experience (sic) love at this level, for soooo long! Thank you all for your prayers! I know that our God is still good but I still feel so lost without my best friend, lover and teammate of 18 years!"
Johnson played for the Grizzlies during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, leading the team in points and assists per game and earning first-team all-Big Sky Conference recognition both seasons. He was the Big Sky Conference newcomer of the year in 2008-09 when he averaged 17.6 points per game. In 2009-10, he upped his average to 19.2 points per game and was named an All-American by CollegeInsider.com.
In 2010, Johnson was the Big Sky tournament MVP and UM's top male athlete.
Johnson's 42-point game against Weber State in the 2010 Big Sky championship is the stuff of legend. With the Grizzlies trailing the Wildcats 40-20, Johnson scored 34 second-half points — including Montana's final 21 points — to help the Griz rally for a 66-65 win and berth in the NCAA tournament.
The 42 points set school and Big Sky tournament records.
A GoFundMe page has been created to support Johnson's family, and friends and teammates posted heartfelt messages on social media as news of Johnson's passing started circulating.
Rest in peace, Anthony Johnson. We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of a Grizzly legend.— Montana Griz Basketball (@MontanaGrizBB) November 2, 2023
There is a GoFundMe set up to support Johnson's wife Shaunte and his family. You can donate here: https://t.co/QGgzPXraxG pic.twitter.com/dlokqpA58l
Montana director of athletics Kent Haslam wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: "I sat with my Dad for the second half of that championship game in 2010 at Weber State. We both could not believe what we were watching Anthony do! Thanks for those memories Anthony. You’re gone too soon."