Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. was born on August 14, 1959, is an American retired professional basketball player and former president of basketball operations of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Johnson is honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Check out these 14 things you didn’t know about Him.
- Early Life and Background.
Earvin Johnson Jr. was born in Lansing, Michigan, the son of General Motors assembly worker Earvin Sr. and school janitor Christine. Johnson, who had six siblings and three half-siblings by his father’s previous marriage. He was influenced by his parents’ strong work ethic. His mother spent many hours after work each night cleaning their home and preparing the next day’s meals, while his father did janitorial work at a used car lot and collected garbage, all while never missing a day at General Motors. Johnson would often help his father on the garbage route, and he was teased by neighborhood children who called him “Garbage Man. Johnson came to love basketball as a young man. His favorite basketball player was Bill Russell, whom he admired more for his many championships than his athletic ability. Johnson came from an athletic family. His father played high school basketball in his home state of Mississippi, and Johnson learned the finer points about the game from him. Johnson’s mother, originally from North Carolina, had also played basketball as a child, and she grew up watching her brothers play the game. By the time he had reached the eighth grade, Johnson had begun to think about a future in basketball. He had become a dominant junior high player, once scoring 48 points in a game, as they say, the rest is history.
- His ‘Magic’ Name.
Johnson was first dubbed “Magic” as a 15-year-old sophomore playing for Everett High School, when he recorded a triple-double of 36 points, 18 rebounds, and 16 assists. His classmates and local sportswriters were so impressed by his performance in the basketball court they nicknamed him ‘Magic.’ His mother, however, didn’t like the name at all. She was a devoted Christian and she considered the word ‘Magic’ to be blasphemous. Interestingly, his neighbors called him “Junior” or “June Bug.” As a child but it didn’t stick.
- HIV Announcement and Olympics (1991–1992)
Johnson, who had retired from basketball in 1991 due to HIV, was selected for the U.S. national team that won the gold medal at the Summer Olympics. After a physical before the 1991–92 NBA season, Johnson discovered that he had tested positive for HIV. In a press conference held on November 7, 1991, Johnson made a public announcement that he would retire immediately. He stated that his wife Cookie and their unborn child did not have HIV, and that he would dedicate his life to “battle this deadly disease”.
- Magic Johnson Slept with a Lot of People.
Johnson initially said that he did not know how he contracted the disease but later acknowledged that it was through having numerous sexual partners during his playing career. Johnson admitted to having sex with around 300-500 people a year before his HIV diagnosis. In fact, he allegedly used to take women to the locker room’s sauna before and after games and press conferences. He admitted to having “harems of women” and talked openly about his sexual activities because “he was convinced that heterosexuals needed to know that they, too, were at risk” At the time, only a small percentage of HIV-positive American men had contracted it from heterosexual sex, and it was initially rumored that Johnson was gay or bisexual, although he denied both.
- He is advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex.
Since his retirement, Johnson has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex, as well as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, broadcaster and motivational speaker. His public announcement of his HIV-positive status in 1991 helped dispel the stereotype, still widely held at the time, that HIV was a “gay disease” that heterosexuals need not worry about; his bravery in making this announcement was widely commended.
- Family Life and Religion.
Johnson first fathered a son in 1981, when Andre Johnson was born to Melissa Mitchell. Although Andre was raised by his mother, he visited Johnson each summer, and later worked for Magic Johnson Enterprises as a marketing director. In 1991, Johnson married Earlitha “Cookie” Kelly in a small wedding in Lansing which included guests Thomas, Aguirre, and Herb Williams. Johnson and Cookie have one son, Earvin III (EJ), who is openly gay and a star on the reality show Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. The couple adopted a daughter, Elisa, in 1995 Johnson resides in Beverly Hills and has a vacation home in Dana Point, California. Johnson is a Christian and has said his faith is “the most important thing” in his life.
- Media Figure and Business Interests.
In 1998, Johnson hosted a late night talk show on the Fox network called The Magic Hour, but the show was canceled after two months because of low ratings. Shortly after the cancellation of his talk show, Magic Johnson started a record label. The label, initially called Magic 32 Records, was renamed Magic Johnson Music when Johnson signed a joint venture with MCA in 2000. He has also worked as a motivational speaker, and was an NBA commentator for Turner Network Television for seven years, before becoming a studio analyst for ESPN’s NBA Countdown in 2008. Johnson runs Magic Johnson Enterprises, a conglomerate company that has a net worth of $700 million; its subsidiaries include Magic Johnson Productions, a promotional company; Magic Johnson Theaters, a nationwide chain of movie theaters; and Magic Johnson Entertainment, a film studio. In addition to these business ventures, Johnson has also created the Magic Card, a prepaid MasterCard aimed at helping low-income people save money and participate in electronic commerce.
- Magic and Politics.
Johnson is a supporter of the Democratic Party. In 2006, he publicly endorsed Phil for Governor of California, in 2007 he supported Hillary Clinton in her presidential campaign, and in 2012, endorsed Barack Obama for president. In 2015, he once again endorsed Hillary Clinton in her second presidential campaign. He hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign on August 22, 2016.
Johnson’s autobiography is Johnson, Earvin (1992). Magic Johnson: My Life. Random House. Other biographies include: Haskins, James (1981). Magic: A Biography of Earvin Johnson. Hillside, New Jersey: Enslow Publishers. Gutman, Bill (1991). Magic: More Than a Legend. New York: Harper Paperbacks. Among others.
- He’s in a Red Hot Chili Peppers Song.
The iconic funk rock California band are long-time Lakers fans and dedicated a song to Johnson. The song is called ‘Magic Johnson’ and it was released as part of their 1989 album Mother’s Milk.
- He Has His Own Video Game.
Basketball video games back in the day used to be named after specific high-performance players. Johnson got his very own Arcadia Systems game in 1988—Magic Johnson’s Fast Break. Five years later, Super Nintendo released Magic Johnson’s Super Slam Dunk.
- His Net Worth Increased after He Retired.
Johnson announced his retirement in 1991 and successfully moved from basketball to business. He invested in Starbucks before it was popular and sold his interest in over 100 franchises for $27 million. His current net-worth is rumored to be over $400 million more than it was when he was an NBA player. Magic Johnson Enterprises, Johnson’s investment firm, has holdings worth an estimated $1 billion across various industries, according to its website.
- He Discouraged Dwight Howard.
Dwight Howard met his favorite basketball player and role model Magic Johnson when he was 15. Howard always dreamed of becoming an NBA player, but Johnson told him he was “too little and too skinny” to ever become a professional player. Howard proved him wrong.
- He Is The Tallest Player To Play The Point Guard Position At 6’9″.
Usually, a person of Magic’s height would play the forward, or maybe even center, position. However, at 6’9″, Earvin was a rare breed who possessed the ball handling and dishing skills of a point guard while also being able to play the big man in a pinch.
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