Carl is the second-in-command of the Los Santos-based street gang, the Grove Street Families, which is led by his brother, Sean "Sweet" Johnson.
Carl "CJ" Johnson was born in 1968 in Los Santos, to Beverly Johnson. He has a father, but as seen in the intro movie, he said he didn't know him. Beverly had four children: Sean, Carl, Kendl, and Brian. Sweet states that Carl was born in the Johnson House, the family's childhood and current home. Old Reece, a family friend, and Ganton's local Barber Old Reece, recalls memories of Carl's father, although Carl tells Joey Leone that he never knew his father, and that Sweet was the "man" of the house but made his life miserable.
The Johnson siblings, along with Melvin "Big Smoke" Harris and Lance "Ryder" Wilson, grew up on the same cul-de-sac and were childhood friends. CJ recalls Ryder dealing drugs since he was ten. Sweet became the leader of the Grove Street Families and introduced him, CJ, and possibly Brian into the gang life.
Around 1985, the Grove Street Families were at the height of their power when they first became pressured by Frank Tenpenny, a corrupt police officer of C.R.A.S.H. It's likely that Officer Eddie Pulaski was also serving with Tenpenny at this time. The Grove Street Families went into a decline at some point between 1987 and 1992. Sweet laments that Carl "let Brian die", causing Carl to leave for Liberty City in 1987. He was no longer considered a member of Grove Street, and would later have to earn his way back into the gang. Big Smoke also implies that Carl was physically larger during that time, stating that "the east coast got you all thinned out, holmes". Tenpeeny Cannon?! Destroy Fat Grove's House?!
Adult life In Liberty City
In 1987, Carl came to Liberty City and started a new life. He had the opportunity of working with Don Salvatore Leone's son, Joey Leone, in the car theft business, as well as other small-time crimes. In 1992, five years after his departure from Los Santos, Sweet calls CJ to tell him that their mother was killed in a drive-by shooting (calling only minutes after it happened). CJ returns to Los Santos for the funeral, with the partial consideration of staying there long-term. ܣܕܪܐ:GTA