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More to TNT's Ernie Johnson than just a talking head

UP UNTIL EARLY Tuesday morning, I had looked at Ernie Johnson as the geeky guy on TNT who did an absolutely terrific job keeping Charles, Kenny and Shaq under control.

UP UNTIL EARLY Tuesday morning, I had looked at Ernie Johnson as the geeky guy on TNT who did an absolutely terrific job keeping Charles, Kenny and Shaq under control.

In a span of less than 24 hours, my respect for Johnson reached a level that I cannot comprehend.

At 2 a.m. on Tuesday, I watched an episode of ESPN's E:60 in which Johnson was featured. So I watched, and cried.

Since becoming the face of Turner Sports in 1990, Johnson has faced some major dilemmas. There was cancer in 2006, which he beat; there was the death of his father in 2011, which he still beats himself up for not being there when Dad died; and then there was Michael.

Michael is the Johnsons' adopted son, who was rescued from a Romanian orphanage in 1991 by Ernie's wife Cheryl when he was 3 years old, The Johnsons were told Michael would never talk, bond with people or walk. He walked a year later, talked at 8 and he's bonded with Ernie.

Michael was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a disease that weakens muscle mass. It is fatal. By his teenage years, Michael was in a wheelchair. And in September 2011, just 4 weeks after the passing of Ernie Sr., he was hospitalized with pneumonia. The next morning, he went into cardiac arrest, was resuscitated but has been on a ventilator ever since. The Johnsons brought Michael home.

Ernie sponge bathes, shaves and suctions Michael's trachea because Michael doesn't have enough muscle control to cough on his own. With each stroke of the razor, and each swabbing with a towel, Ernie tells Michael how much he loves him.

Then, on Tuesday night he wins the sports Emmy for top in-studio host. Upon receiving the award, he asks Taelor and Sydni Scott, the daughters of late ESPN anchor Stuart Scott, who lost his battle to cancer in early January, to come on stage and he hands the Emmy to them.

A beautiful gesture by an outstanding human being.