Bill Johnson brought to a smile by U.S. Olympic skiers on 55th birthday

Bill Johnson
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Bill Johnson, the 1984 Olympic downhill gold medalist who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a 2001 crash, smiled upon receiving 55th birthday greetings from U.S. skiers on Monday, according to The Associated Press.

Three-time Olympians Steven Nyman and Marco Sullivan wished Johnson happy birthday in a video shown to him at his assisted living facility in Oregon.

Johnson “smiled from beginning to the end,” his mother said, according to the AP. Mikaela Shiffrin also wished Johnson a happy birthday.

Johnson predicted he would win the downhill at the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Games and followed through, becoming the first American man to capture Olympic Alpine gold.

The man with the “Ski To Die” tattoo was left off the 1988 Olympic team, lost his son to drowning in 1992, and his marriage ended in 1999.

Johnson attempted a comeback prior to the 2002 Olympics, but a horrible skiing crash left him in a temporary coma and with severe brain injuries. In 2010, he suffered a major stroke.

In June 2013, he spent two weeks in intensive care while doctors unsuccessfully attempted to find the source of an infection that attacked all of his major organs.

Johnson can no longer move his arms or legs and can’t really speak, according to the AP.

”He’s deteriorating,” his mother said, according to the AP. ”He’s frozen in himself. It’s so sad.”

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