November 20

A Coach and A Miracle: Life Lessons from a Man who Believed in an Autistic Boy with Jim Johnson


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In his first and only varsity game, J-Mac was the highest scorer. CBS, ESPN, CNN, and major news outlets around the world picked up the story, the YouTube video ( got millions of hits, and the world was fascinated with everything to do with Jason McElwain (J-Mac). But the story began long before he took the court that night at Greece Athena High School in Rochester, New York. 

Jim Johnson started his career slowly by being fired in my first varsity position. He rebounded and finished with over 400 wins and many championships. He was named Coach of the Year in 2006 by several Rochester-area organizations and was also presented with a National Sportsmanship Award. In 2016 Coach Johnson was named Monroe County Coach of the Year as well as receiving the Class A Section V Coach of the Year honors. 

Of his 428 career victories, one, in particular, will surely never be duplicated. 

On Feb. 15, 2006, Coach Johnson made the kindhearted gesture of inserting his autistic team manager, Jason McElwain, into Greece Athena High School’s final home game. Jason scored 20 points in just over four minutes, including six three-point baskets, to become an instant national celebrity.


  1. I did not set the world on fire when I started my career. But the neat thing is, I guess what I’m most proud of is that I kept growing and getting better. (2:00)
  2. I’ve studied a lot about success with people because I wanted to be successful in myself and be a great leader, I really believe that resilience is something that you have to develop. we all had our challenges, but you know what, it’s hard to find anybody that’s had great success that didn’t have that characteristic. (16:07)
  3. It was one of my proudest moments to see how far kids are willing to sacrifice, to help a teammate out. And that’s what the essence of teamwork is all about. (18:12)
  4. So in the business world, you know, I do presentations, and I talk about seven keys to being an effective leader. The first thing is for me is to clarify your vision. The second thing that I talk about is the ability to build trust.  (18:36)

Johnson is now an authority on the subject of realizing your dreams. He emphasizes the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship, delivering his talks with a heartfelt style that has brought audiences to their feet. His book, A Coach and A Miracle: Life Lessons from a Man who Believed in an Autistic Boy, can be bought on Amazon: 

You can visit to book to learn more. 

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