Every child dreams of having an older sibling. Anthony was lucky enough to have Johnny at his side and to provide guidance throughout his childhood. Although they’re only 2 years apart, Johnny was a huge, figuratively and literally, reason why his little brother is where he’s at now.
Johnny graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in 2005 with no athletic scholarship offers to continue his stellar high school football career. He decided to stay close to home and walk on at Florida Atlantic University. It’s very rare for an offensive lineman to start immediately as a true freshman, especially a walk on. But Johnny was determined to make a name for himself, and coach Howard Schnellenberger and his staff at FAU saw that he had that “X factor”. Johnny went on to start all four years and earned a scholarship while at FAU. Because he stayed close to home for his collegiate career, his family and friends were able to support him whenever the Owls played home games at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, or when they played FIU at Sun Life Stadium (Joe Robbie, Pro Player, Dolphin…whatever it’s called now). Johnny wouldn’t trade anything for his time and career as a leader for the Division 1 program where he definitely left a lasting impression.
Now that Johnny’s playing days are over, he shifts his focus to the real world, and follows his little brother’s athletic career. Anthony is now playing professional baseball in the San Diego Padres organization. After being drafted in the 6th round out of high school, also Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland, FL, by the Boston Red Sox, everyone associated with Anthony had high hopes for him. The majority of the players that dream of playing in the Big Leagues, fail to ever reach “The Show”. In 2010, after a couple of years of showing his ability to play first base and hit for both average and power, the Red Sox felt like they needed an immediate impact power hitter in their lineup and were eyeing a trade for Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres. San Diego was looking towards the future and told the Red Sox that if they wanted their star 1B, the Red Sox would have to give up their prized prospect, Anthony Rizzo.
With that said, the Red Sox agreed to trade their future 1B for an immediate All-Star. This might have to do with the fact that Boston is always in the playoff hunt, year in and year out, and the Padres are a young team, struggling in the NL West, obviously banking on their young prospects. On June 9, 2011, Anthony’s wish came true when he got that phone call from the major league squad. This news spread across south Florida quicker than smoke from a brush fire in the Everglades. Ironically enough, about a month after he was called up, the Padres had a 3 games series in Miami with the Florida Marlins. Out of the 70 or so fans in the stands (being facetious), 50 of them were there to support Anthony. Each time he came up to the plate, his family and friends stood up, yelled and encouraged the young superstar, in which the other fans were confused as to why this kid who they’ve never heard of was getting so much love and support. Johnny was at every game during that series, taking photographs of his brother’s supporting cast.
The smile Johnny had on his face when he was with everyone in the stands, showed how much he loves the people around him. It also showed how happy he has that he helped his brother get to where he is, through personal issues and athletic set-backs. Anthony Rizzo will be a household name sooner rather than later, and he will be the first to tell you that his older brother Johnny, was a huge reason why he is as successful as he is.