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Rob Johnson was a loyal friend, positive person, and one half of local rap duo Team High Life.
Johnson and Chris McMillan, the other half of Team High Life, have been best friends – brothers, really – for years; making music, hanging out, touring the country, but McMillan is looking alone to the future music career they planned. Johnson is also the godfather of McMillan’s children.
“Rob refused to let you have a bad day,” McMillan remembers. “It was impossible to have a bad day or even a bad moment when Rob was around.”
Johnson died over the weekend from injuries sustained in a drunk driving crash Thursday, and his friend, Dartavian Watson, is now facing the rest of his life in prison because Watson, 20, of Racine, was the driver. Johnson will be laid to rest on what would have been his 27th birthday, next Thursday, Oct. 22.
Friends have flooded McMillan’s Facebook page with condolence messages and memories of Johnson. McMillan is not surprised by the reaction to his friend’s death.
“He was one of the best people you could know, and we can’t get that back,” he said. “I’m getting messages
McMillan said he and Johnson last spoke just a day or so before the accident about a new song Johnson was working on. Despite recently moving to Kansas City, MO, to be with his mother, McMillan said he and Johnson continued to collaborate on music, using email and Facetime to write lyrics and trade hooks.
“I have the last song Rob ever wrote, and that’s hard for me to believe,” McMillan added. “I do know he’s in heaven with God because he was just that good of a person.”
What McMillan isn’t doing is blaming Watson for Johnson’s death. He is fully aware that Watson is charged with second degree reckless homicide, two counts of first degree recklessly endangering safety, and reckless driving causing injury, but McMillan says that Watson is also one of the best people he knows.
“Tavi is a good kid, and we are more than just best friends, we are brothers with him, too,” he continued. “This wasn’t just Tavi’s fault; this was everybody’s fault, everyone who made the decision to get into the car. He was just the one driving. Everyone should do the time Tavi is facing.”
McMillan said Watson recently became a father and was focused on a positive future.
“He was never around any drama, you know,” he stated. “I can’t imagine what he’s feeling. I wish God could be his only judge because we shouldn’t have to lose two people. I know Tavi would change places with Rob. I know it.”
According to the criminal complaint against him, Watson, Johnson and another man were drinking at a nearby home. When they left the house, Watson got behind the wheel with Johnson in the front passenger seat and the other man in the back behind Johnson.
Investigators say Watson was possibly driving between 60 and 70 miles per hour southbound on Mound Avenue when he lost control of the car and slammed into a building near the intersection of 6th Street and Mound Avenue. Witnesses rushed to help remove Watson, Johnson and another passenger from the car.
Watson and the passenger in the back seat suffered minor injuries, and Johnson was airlifted to Froedtert Hospital with severe head trauma. He died Saturday afternoon.
McMillan said Johnson’s death and Watson’s charges are a wake-up call and should be for all of their friends.
“We have had some crazy nights, some of them not too different from what happened to Rob,” he admitted. “Those days are over. Never again. And I hope everyone else is thinking the same thing.”
To help Johnson’s family pay for his funeral expenses, there is a gofundme page established. McMillan said there is also a benefit concert in the works, and we will post that information as soon as we get it.