TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Wharton High School student-athlete is graduating after overcoming a learning disability and behavioral issues he has faced since elementary school.

Born and raised in Tampa, Dijon Johnson is one of three children to a single mother.

“She did everything she could do for us,” Johnson said. “She brought up three kids and look at us now.”

As a now graduate of Wharton High School, Johnson looks back on the last 17 years of his life and sees the growth.

“It was kind of hard in the classroom,” Johnson said.

When he was in elementary school, education professionals told Johnson he has a learning disability.

“I’ll get it and then just forget about it and I’ll be starting from square one all over again,” he said. “Retaining information was a problem for me.”

Educators put Johnson on a individualized education program (IEP) to help him grow in his studies. However, Johnson said the opposite happened.

“I was just hanging around the wrong people, getting in trouble in school, I was just fighting,” he said.

Dijon Johnson with one of his coaches, Robert Baham after celebrating his commitment to the University of Florida.

Those fights and poor choices caused Johnson to be kicked out of public school and placed in an alternative school for middle school. It was at that time, Johnson realized he needed to make a change.

“I knew what kind of kid I was and I wasn’t this type of kid,” Johnson said.

Johnson has been playing football since he was five. As a young boy, his dream was to play on the collegiate and professional levels. In alternative school, his family and mentors told him; he had to have the academic achievements as well as the athletic talent to be a student-athlete. He knew he had to turn things around in school.

Once Johnson realized he’d be going from alternative school to Wharton High School, he immediately started putting in the work. He started getting tutored, followed his IEP plan and kept working hard on the field.

“I knew what I could bring to the table, so I was like forget the other people, you know your worth,” Johnson said.

Dijon Johnson of Wharton High School signs to play football at the University of Florida on a full scholarship.

Eventually, others saw his worth too. During Johnson’s junior year, he started getting football offers.

“Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, Georgia, like all the big time schools,” he said. “Boston College was my first power five offer and I had a Kool-Aid smile.”

Johnson received a total of 39 Division 1 college football scholarship offers. It’s an accomplishment his coaches saw coming.

“He came out and worked his butt off,” said Robert Baham, Assistant Coach for Wharton HS football. “He would be here after practice working and it paid off. I’ll get teachers who rave about Dee -Dee and how’s turned around.”

Dijon Johnson and his 5-month-old daughter

Johnson has gone from an alternative school student with a learning disability to a 3.0 GPA high school graduate with a full ride athletic scholarship to the University of Florida.

“Life is not easy. On a day to day we always have something we have to overcome,” Johnson said. “Hard work will pay off eventually. I know I was working hard and I really deserved it.”

Johnson is now the father of a 5-month-old daughter. He said she is now his inspiration to keep pushing and achieve his goals. Johnson will play cornerback for the University of Florida in the fall.