GARY, Ind. – It’s often said family should be your biggest fan and your greatest source of support.

There’s absolutely no missing that when it comes to the most impactful player from the greater Chicagoland area still playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Johnell Davis might be the baby of Lucresia and John’s four children, but “Nelly” – as he’s called by those who know him best – continues to be the proud centerpiece of the Davis family, following the leads of his older brothers Jonathan and Jeffery.

“He would sit on his little ball and he would watch and watch,” Lucresia Davis said. “They’d take him out there and they’d work him out. He’d do everything. He was like, ‘This is what I want to do.’ Anything his brothers did, it was over. He was going to do what they did and do it better.”

Johnell’s sister Jaunesia provides reason to be proud as well. For three years, she’s owned and operated We Are the Village, Gary’s only non-profit for special needs children, with no similar facility closer than Merrillville. But, she also pours her passion into creating a wardrobe that lets everyone know how good Johnell is, just in case they didn’t.

“I love the first shirt I ever made. Once he moved to a bigger scene – the high school scene [at 21st Century Charter], like I said, we’ve been following him since elementary school – I feel like it was harder to look for me in a crowd,” she said. “He couldn’t see me. He couldn’t notice me. I had to start putting his face on my shirts.”

When his family’s volume matches the visuals at the games, it doesn’t bother the baby brother behind the inspiration one bit.

“I was always comfortable with it. It just made me happy,” Johnell Davis said. “It made me want to do better to see them on the sideline, cheering me on.”

“Because he was really good, all of the parents used to talk about him. They used to heckle him,” Jaunesia said. “‘Break his ankle! Get him! Get him! Y’all have to stop him! Y’all have to stop him!’ That’s when I started screaming and yelling to the top of my lungs, ‘They can’t stop you! They can’t stop you!'”

The love runs so deep, that even after he let profanity slip into a live postgame interview following his obscene 29-point, 12-rebound, 5-assist record-setting performance in the second round against Fairleigh Dickinson, family lectures weren’t necessary.

“I was proud of him because he’d been stressing. It just blurted out,” his father John Davis said.

However, when he was younger, if he said that word – would he be in trouble?

“Oh, yeah. Still don’t curse around our parents,” Jaunesia Davis said.

But, another less viral thing Johnell said after one of the Owls’ four wins is that no matter the ending of his dream ride thus far, he hopes his success allows him to take care of his family, the way they’ve taken care of him.

“Seeing my family struggle makes me want to strive to be great. Work even harder,” he said. “All that stuff they sacrificed for me to get to this point, I just want to help them take some of that load off their back. I just don’t want them to work no more.”

“He’s a very humble child. For him to say that, it made my heart filled with joy,” Lucresia said. “Because he means what he says.”

“I’m very proud. I keep calling him. I keep telling him, ‘Thank you.’ Thank you Johnell Davis for everything you’re doing for your family. We are so very proud of you,” Jaunesia said. “We have some tough teams to face, but I have faith in my FAU boys. That’s our family just as much as Nelly is our family. We’re going to win it all.”