Iowa Hawkeyes

Former City High, Iowa athlete Alex Johnson dies

Johnson recalled by former coaches for athleticism

IOWA CITY — Alex Johnson, formerly known as Virginia Johnson — the Iowa City High and University of Iowa basketball player — took his life Thursday.

“Our hearts are broken,” Shelly Henry, Alex’s mother, posted on Facebook late Friday. “Alex took his own life while hospitalized (in St. Petersburg, Fla.)”

A 2011 graduate of City High, Johnson made the game-winning layup as time expired to give the Little Hawks the Class 4A girls’ state championship over Cedar Rapids Washington. As a senior, Johnson averaged 22.6 points and 10.3 rebounds. Johnson also was a state runner-up in the high jump and a finalist for Gazette Athlete of the Year in 2011.

“(Johnson) might be the most God-gifted player I ever coached,” City Coach Bill McTaggart said Saturday. “It feels like a family member has passed away.”

Johnson played in 13 games as a freshman at Iowa.

“(Johnson) was one of the most athletic players in the Big Ten,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said after Johnson’s career ended due to concussions.

Alex came out as transgender in 2015 and was employed as a juvenile probation officer in St. Petersburg, Fla., at the time of his death.

Visitation is planned at Gay & Ciha Funeral Service in Iowa City from 3-6 p.m. Saturday, while a memorial service will be held Sunday (July 1) at 12:30 p.m.

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