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Former Hawkeyes Johnson, Tate deal with Japan quake

[ 0 ] March 12, 2011 |

Iowa's Justin Johnson (44) and Cyrus Tate are pictured during a game on Feb. 2, 2008 against David Lighty and Ohio State. (Register file photo)

Former Iowa basketball player Justin Johnson was hanging out in his Tokyo apartment Friday when things started falling off the walls.

“Tell everyone I’m safe,” Johnson, a professional player for the Tokyo Apache, wrote in an e-mail, “(but) I lost my mind as it shook for about 10 minutes.

“Cabinets were opening, plates were dropping, and everything was shaking.

“I’d heard Japan was known for getting quakes, but as I was experiencing my first one – I was thinking that this wasn’t just a normal quake.”

Cyrus Tate, another former Iowa basketball player, plays for the Oita Heat Devils, also in the Japanese Basketball League.

“I’m fine,” Tate, who played at Iowa between 2007-09, wrote in an e-mail. “I was on a plane during the earthquake, on the way to a road game, so I really didn’t feel anything.”

Johnson, from Tyler, Texas, didn’t know the magnitude of what was happening until venturing outside of his apartment.

“I live on top of many shopping stores, and numerous people were standing by my building, talking on phones in an alley,” Johnson wrote. “I got my clothes on and headed to a park, and as I was walking there I saw helicopters in the air. That’s when I really started to get the feel of how huge this was.

“Japanese and English news crews were reporting on the catastrophe, and interviewing people all around me.”

Johnson, who played for Iowa between 2006-08, left his apartment at the urging of his apartment manager.

“My apartment manager told me to get out of the apartment and to higher ground without any big buildings around,” Johnson continued.

He heeded that advice.

“It’s an experience that will stay with me my whole life,” wrote Johnson, who lives in an area away from the ocean. “Coming from Texas, I never even thought about experiencing an earthquake – it’s just my luck to be experienced to an 8.9 earthquake.

“Where I live, all the buildings are still up. It doesn’t look like the sadness going on in other places.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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