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Joe Johnson's work on behalf of blood cancer a personal battle

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USA TODAY Sports

Last July, as Joe Johnson received the accolades of the New York media, starred at the "Brooklyn's Backcourt" press conference and threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium, his mind was elsewhere. Back in Arkansas, his mother, Dianne, was in the hospital, her second round of chemotherapy best by complications and ultimately pneumonia. He took a week off from the team's voluntary workouts and spent it at his mother's side.

It was only recently that Johnson has spoken about his mother's battle with a rare blood cancer. Johnson has become national spokesman for Delete Blood Cancer, recording public service announcements on the value of registering for the national bone marrow registry. Working with the Nets, he's been instrumental in getting attention locally and setting up a booth for the registry at Barclays Center.

Now, he and his mother have spoken with Stefan Bondy on her battle. "It’s just been her," Johnson says. "My pops was never around. It was just me and her. So to see her go through cancer. It’s just tough."

"My son really stepped up. He was there. I can tell he was hurting and I couldn’t help him," says Dianne, fighting back tears. "He was there. He’s been there for me all through this and continues to support me in anything and everything I do."