Former NFL star Chad Johnson left the Broward County Main Jail on Monday and called the judge who put him there a blessing in disguise.
Johnson walked out of jail shortly after 4 p.m. and was met by his attorney, Adam Swickle, and sports agent Drew Rosenhaus. Johnson told reporters he was thankful to Judge Kathleen McHugh because she was the first person to get him to slow down and think about the path his life was taking.
"I had a lot of time to reflect, a lot of time to think, think about where I have been, where I am now, and where I am going," Johnson said as he left jail. "Other than that man, it's just, I have to make my next move, my best move."
Johnson, 35, also known as Chad Ochocinco for his jersey number in Spanish during his playing days, appeared in a Broward County, Fla., courtroom on Monday, when McHugh ruled that he would be released. His 30-day jail sentence, which was given to him after he slapped his attorney on the backside in court, was reduced to seven days.
"A lot of people have tried to get me to slow down in life. Coaches, agent, lawyer, and there was one person that was able to do it, and that was my judge Ms. McHugh. Little does she know it, I love her to death. But basically, what she's been, is a blessing in disguise," he said.
He will remain in probation until October 16, receive counseling sessions twice a week and work on community service hours, the judge ruled.
Johnson was initally in court for violating his probation in a domestic violence case.
He had been expected to take a plea deal that included no jail time, but it all fell apart when Johnson slapped his attorney.
On Monday, Johnson appeared before Judge McHugh, the judge who rejected his initial plea. He apologized and she reduced the sentence.
"I apologize for disrespecting your court," Johnson said.
Johnson had apologized several times last week, and told the judge that the gesture was not meant as disrespect to the court.
But after the courtroom erupted in laughter, McHugh sent Johnson to jail.
Johnson was on probation after pleading no contest to head-butting his then-wife, TV reality star Evelyn Lozada, during an altercation last August. She quickly filed for divorce after barely a month of marriage and Johnson, a six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, was immediately released by the Miami Dolphins. He didn't play at all last season.