Twenty years ago, NBA legend and arguably the best point guard ever to touch a basketball, Ervin “Magic” Johnson shocked the world and revealed he had HIV.
Back then, Magic was at the top of his game—playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, recently married to the love of his life, and gearing up for yet another championship run. He was unstoppable. And then came the press conference.
November 7, 1991 was a day that not only changed Magic Johnson’s life, but the world as well. Up until that point, HIV was seen as a gay, White man’s disease and a certain death sentence.
I remember being a young girl in Los Angeles at the time (and a rabid Lakers fan), and thinking that Magic Johnson just told us he was going to die. And very soon. But despite the grim statistics of the time, Magic not only survived, but he has become one of the world’s most ardent HIV/AIDS activists.
Recently, Magic sat down with ESPN to discuss his life—20 years after telling the world he was living with HIV. Today, Magic is not only beating the disease, but he’s also reinvented himself into a successful businessman and dedicated philanthropist.
Through his Magic Johnson foundation, Magic has partnered with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to establish five full-service clinics in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, and Jacksonville that provide much-needed HIV/AIDS care in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. He has also put his money where his mouth is and given over $10 million to fight the disease.
Twenty years ago, as he revealed he had the virus, Magic told reporters, “I’m gonna go on, I’m gonna beat it, and I’m gonna have fun.”
And he has most certainly been a man of his word.
Do you remember where you were when Magic Johnson revealed he has HIV? What did you think?