By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Gainesville cop shaves head for boy battling leukemia
1231RILEY 0001
Former Atlanta Falcon Jerious Norwood, left, goes in for a fist bump with Riley Johnson, 6, at his Gainesville home Friday morning. Riley, who was diagnosed with B-Cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, will be an honorary team captain at Sunday’s game between the Falcons and the New Orleans Saints.

Lt. Andy Smith tied his own aqua-blue bib and sat down for a haircut.

His barber for the day was 6-year-old Riley Johnson, a Gainesville boy battling B-Cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia who was giving him a shave similar to his own.

“We’re twins now, and he’s not in it alone,” Smith said.

Gainesville Police and former Atlanta Falcons Jerious Norwood and Chris Owens surprised Riley at his Gainesville home Friday, presenting him with a signed Falcons helmet.

On Sunday, Riley will be an honorary team captain at the Georgia Dome when the Falcons play the New Orleans Saints.

Riley was diagnosed in May and has been going weekly to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Scottish Rite hospital for chemotherapy. The Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research chose Riley to be the honorary captain at Sunday’s game.

“This has been such an experience,” Riley’s father J.R. Johnson said Friday, as his son and the former Atlanta Falcons played with his train sets. “This entire community has wrapped their arms around us and just shown us that they’re in it with us.”

Standing on a footstool, Riley took the clippers while Norwood and Owens praised his haircutting technique.

“As football players, you know what we do? We’ve got to finish the drill,” Norwood said, as he shifted Riley to shave the other half of Smith’s head.

After the haircut, Riley, Norwood and Owens took to the front yard for a quick game.

Evading the would-be tacklers, Riley spiked the ball at the end of the lawn.

“Just to be at the game is a big deal, but to see Riley flip a coin and be captain for the day is breathtaking,” J.R. Johnson said.

The game will be at 4:25 p.m. Sunday on Fox/WAGA-5.