Johnny Damon was born at Fort Riley, KS, where his father Jimmy was stationed as a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army. He had met his wife while stationed in Thailand. After Johnny was born, his parents lived on bases in Japan and West Germany before settling in Orlando, where he started pre-school.
A natural athlete, Damon was a big baseball fan and fulfilled his passion while playing in the South Orange Little League. By seventh grade, he had caught the eye of Dr. Phillips High School’s baseball coach, Danny Allie, who was impressed by how hard Johnny worked. It was clear every time he took the field; running, while others walked.
As a freshman at Dr. Phillips in 1988, Damon made the football team and was one of the team’s best players. In the spring, he made the baseball team playing center field, and turned out to be the school’s first four-year starter. He also ran track and was considered one of the Panthers’ top runners.
During his senior year in 1992, Damon was rated the top high-school prospect in the country by Baseball America, was named to USA Today’s High School All-America team, and was the Florida Gatorade Player of the Year.
He was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the first round (35th overall) of the 1992 amateur draft. After four years in the minors, he made his Major League debut in 1995 and played for the Royals until 2000. He donned the uniforms of the Oakland Athletics in 2001, the Boston Red Sox from 2002-2005, the New York Yankees from 2006-2009, the Detroit Tigers in 2010, the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, and the Cleveland Indians in 2012, winning two memorable World Series along the way (2004 Red Sox and 2009 Yankees). He led the American League in stolen bases in 2000.
Off the field, Damon established The Johnny Damon Foundation, a non-profit that has supported local groups such as Arnold Palmer Hospital, PACE Center for Girls, Edgewood Children’s Ranch, S.T.A.R.S. of West Orange, West Orange Habitat for Humanity, Orlando Magic Youth Fund, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Northern Florida, West Orange Boys and Girls’ Club, Dr. Phillips High School, Orlando Firefighters Benevolent Association and UCP of Central Florida. He’s also a national spokesman for the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides programs and services designed to ease the burdens of severely injured servicemen, servicewomen and their families.