Throwing Shade

How a guy selling T-shirts named Scuba Steve has made an impact

JUSTIN MITCHELL

jmitchell@sunherald.com

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AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALDSteve Johnson, better known as Scuba Steve, hugs long time friend Emily Fertitta while selling his shirts at the D'Iberville BBQ Throwdown & Festival on Saturday. Johnson said that his cancer has returned and that he will have to undergo surgery next week, followed by another six months of chemotherapy. Also pictured are Annette Fertitta, left, and Emily Fertitta.
AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALDSteve Johnson, better known as Scuba Steve, hugs long time friend Emily Fertitta while selling his shirts at the D'Iberville BBQ Throwdown & Festival on Saturday. Johnson said that his cancer has returned and that he will have to undergo surgery next week, followed by another six months of chemotherapy. Also pictured are Annette Fertitta, left, and Emily Fertitta. SUN HERALD

His hugs are infectious. His tight squeeze confirms that there is nothing but love inside of his grasp.

His smile transcends social media. His positive attitude makes you want to be a better person.

The way he talks about his mother makes you want to call home and tell your own mom how much you love her.

His story has been told several times, but it never gets old. He started selling T-shirts out of the trunk of his SUV that later got repossessed because he didn't make enough money to pay his car note. But he kept on doing what he loved. Eventually he got a kiosk. And whether you bought a T-shirt or not, he was giving you a big hug as you walked through Edgewater Mall, whether you wanted it or not.

He gave a shirt to a homeless shelter every time somebody bought one.

When he said, "Thank you so much," you knew he meant it. Probably because you were going to get about three more hugs before you left the kiosk.

Then, the kiosk grew into a warehouse. Then, there was the website. Then, it was on to festivals and storefronts.

He had turned his dream of selling his brand into a reality, thanks to the help of South Mississippians who couldn't get enough of "Scuba" Steve Johnson.

Whether it be a selfie posted to Facebook, a quick photo on Instagram, or sending out a "Thank You" to customers on social media, Johnson has always been met with open arms from Coastians. And when we learned he had colorectal cancer, we were emotional with him. We were scared with him. But we were confident he would remain #scubastrong and beat it.

On Wednesday, Johnson announced on Facebook that he was returning home to Gulfport after major surgery in New Orleans to remove lymph nodes and tumors caused by his cancer.

As Johnson recovers, South Mississippi will be there, just as Johnson has been here for South Mississippi.

#scubastrong

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