LAGRANGE, Ga. — King Mwikuta was at a family friend’s home in 2007 when he heard the news that his 38-year old mother, Carolyn Johnson, had died. King was just 7 years old.
Johnson had a range of issues contributing to her death. She had a failing heart, failing kidneys and lupus. King didn’t know that his mother was sick. His older brother, Titus, and his older sister, Sparkelle, knew of their mother’s sickness, but they didn’t tell King because they weren’t sure how he would process it. So when he heard the news that his mother was gone, he was distraught.
“I just couldn’t believe it at all,” Mwikuta told SEC Country.
Johnson’s dying wish was for King’s grandmother, Yvonne, to take care of her children. And that’s what she did. Those first couple of years were tough on King. Yvonne said King would cry sometimes asking for his mother. She would take him to the cemetery where his mother was buried and remind him how great of a person she was.
The main thing Yvonne would provide King during his early development years was a constant reminder that she would always be there to support him no matter what.
“It was hard for me to look at my grandma as that mother figure right away,” Mwikuta said. “She’s done a great job. I love her. We have our arguments and differences, but she has shown me what a true mother is.”
Yvonne has raised King to be a quality young man. Take for instance when King was around 11 or 12 years old. He witnessed a boy younger than him steal a bike. He tried running after the boy, but he couldn’t catch him. So, what did he do when the cops asked who took the bike? King took the blame for it because he didn’t want the kid to get in trouble for making a mistake.
King said he didn’t want the parents of the boy to be disappointed in their son.
“I had to go down to the jail and tell them that King would never tell on the little boy who took the bike, but he took the blame for it,” Yvonne said. “The [police] dismissed it. That’s King.”
King doesn’t remember much about his mother, but he said he remembers her being an outgoing woman. That would make sense because King is one of the most outgoing kids you’ll meet.
Yvonne said King has always been like that, and she believes it’s because of his mother’s personality. In a lot of ways, King is just like his mother in how she lived her life — happy.
“Life is too short to not be happy,” King said. “You can’t hold any grudges against anyone or be unhappy. Nobody wants to walk around unhappy.”
Humble, kind and sweet were the adjectives used by Yvonne to describe her grandson. King never gave his grandma any trouble growing up. Even when she said she would try to make him a little upset just to see how he would react, King wouldn’t fall for it. He does whatever his grandma says.
It’s just King and Yvonne in the house right now. Yvonne has come to realize that this is going to be the last year she has her grandson around the house. That’s why she wanted him to choose either Auburn or Georgia when he made his commitment.
Auburn is less than an hour away in the car from home and Georgia is the school Yvonne grew up rooting for.
“It’s going to be lonesome for me,” Yvonne said with tears in her eyes. “It’s just King and me in the house. I’m going to cry. He means everything to me. He’s my baby.”
Said King: “I’m going to miss my grandma. I can’t wait for the day when I come back home and say, ‘Come on, grandma, you don’t have to live here anymore.'”
These past few years have been difficult for Yvonne. Her youngest son, Morgan, died in 2015 of a massive heart attack. Who was there for her? King.
“He always supports me,” Yvonne said. “He’s just a wonderful man. I love him dearly.”
When King, a Class of 2019 4-star linebacker from Troup County High School, committed to Alabama back on Dec. 15, 2017, his birthday, he ended his ceremony by giving his grandmother a shout out and dedicating the biggest decision of his life to his mother.
“I know she would have been up there sitting next to me,” King said. “I couldn’t imagine what that would have been like. I have been through a lot, but I can’t make that be an excuse. Everybody goes through trials and tribulations in life. This just happens to be mine. She would have been the happiest person in this room.
“I know I’m going to see her again one day. I hope it’s a long time down the road, but I’m going to see my mom again.”