Retired NFL wide receiver and ESPN sports analyst Keyshawn Johnson announced the unexpected death of his daughter, Maia, yesterday, March 15. She was 25 years old, the eldest of his four children, and no reason was given for her untimely passing.
“Maia, as my first born child, has been the joy of my, and her Mother Shikiri’s, life,” he wrote on social media. “She came into our lives just as we were both coming of age as adults and has been a constant beloved presence for both of us.”
Shikiri Hightower-Gaskin was Keyshawn’s first wife as well as Maia’s mother, and she has made no public statement on her daughter’s death. For her part, though, Shikiri’s been sharing throwback photos of Maia via the Instagram stories for the clothing line she launched in late 2013, China Royal.
Presently the co-host of ESPN Radio’s weekday morning show Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin and an analyst for their TV show NFL Live, Keyshawn’s on-air employer released the following statement: “Our thoughts are with Keyshawn and his family as they deal with this unthinkable tragedy. He has the full support of his ESPN family.”
Since the news broke, multiple parties have reached to Johnson on social media to express their sympathies, including actress Patricia Arquette, fellow ESPN commentators Dan Orlovsky and Stan Verrett, Johnson’s former colleague Jemele Hill, and even his former team, the New York Jets, who drafted the wide receiver in 1996 and with whom Johnson made two Pro Bowl appearances during his eleven-year career.
“We also all appreciate your support and respect for our privacy as we move forward,” Johnson asked. “Thank you all, God Bless.” And we at the CASSIUS family offer our deepest condolences to Maia Hightower Johnson’s family at this difficult time as well.