Sports Legend, American Icon
Charitable Business Tycoon
August 2007, Los Angeles
# Basketball Hall-of-Famer, first rookie ever to win the Finals MVP Award (1980)
# One of 10 children
# Nicknamed "Magic"
# Teammate Michael Cooper, about Magic's amazing passing ability: "There have been times when he has thrown passes and I wasn't sure where he was going. Then one of our guys catches the ball and scores, and I run back up the floor convinced that he must've thrown it through somebody."
# Legendary rival of Larry Bird
# Retired from basketball after announcing he tested HIV-positive
# "It was the first game ever called on account of hugs." regarding his warm welcome from fellow players after returning from retirement to score 25 points and win the MVP award at the 1992 All-Star Game
# Received NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for promoting AIDS awareness
# Returned for part of 1995-96 season and then retired again
# Named to NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team (1996)
You're the only one who can make the difference. Whatever your dream is, go for it." Magic Johnson
"Magic is who I am on the basketball court. Earvin is who I am."
Earvin Johnson, Jr.
Joining the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association in 1979, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Jr. (born 1959) became one of basketball's most popular stars.
In November 1991, Magic Johnson stunned the sportsworld with his announcement that he was infected with the human immune deficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes the disease acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Johnson announced that he was retiring from professional basketball but returned in 1992 and again in 1996. He turned his enthusiasm and leadership skills to business. Among his successes, he developed movie theaters and shopping malls in poor and neglected sections of large cities where no one else would invest.
Johnson was born in 1959 in Lansing, Michigan. He first played organized basketball at Everett High School. In 1977 Johnson and the Everett team won the Michigan state high school championship. Johnson then attended Michigan State University. As a sophomore, he averaged 17.1 points per game and was named an All-American. In 1979 Michigan State won the national collegiate championship by defeating Indiana State University, a team led by future Boston Celtics star Larry Bird. Johnson scored 24 points and was chosen Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Johnson was selected first in the 1979 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. In his first game for the Lakers he scored 26 points. He then became the first rookie to start in an NBA All-Star game. The Lakers won the 1979-1980 Pacific Division title and went on to play the Philadelphia 76ers for the championship. The Lakers defeated the 76ers for the NBA title, and Johnson became the youngest player ever to be named MVP of the playoffs.