Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. is an American former professional basketball player and former head of basketball operations for the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers (NBA). Often recognized as the most outstanding point guard of all time, Johnson was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996 after 13 seasons with the Lakers. The Lakers selected Johnson first overall in the 1979 NBA draft after winning high school and college titles. In his inaugural season, he won a championship and the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award, and he went on to win four more titles with the Lakers in the 1980s. Johnson announced his retirement in 1991 after contracting HIV, but he returned to play in the 1992 All-Star Game, winning the All-Star MVP Award. He retired again for four years after objections from his teammates but returned in 1996, at the age of 36, to play 32 games for the Lakers before retiring for the third and final time.
Background and Early Career
Earvin Johnson Jr. was born in Lansing, Michigan, to Earvin Sr., a GM assembly worker, and Christine, a school cleaner. Johnson grew up with six siblings (and three half-siblings from his father's previous marriage), as well as three half-siblings from his father's prior marriage. His parents' strong work ethic impacted. His mother spent several hours after work cleaning and preparing the next day's meals, while his father worked as a janitor at a used car lot and collected rubbish, all while working full-time at General Motors. Johnson would frequently assist his father on the garbage route, earning "Garbage Man" from the neighborhood kids.
As a young guy, Johnson developed a passion for basketball. Bill Russell was his favorite basketball player, who he loved more for his many championships than for his athletic skill. He also looked up to players like Earl Monroe and Marques Haynes, and he practiced "every day." Johnson was born into a sporting family. Johnson learned the game's finer nuances from his father, who played high school basketball in his home state of Mississippi. Johnson's mother, born in North Carolina and who grew up watching her brothers play basketball, was also a basketball player.
Johnson had begun to consider a career in basketball by the eighth grade. He'd developed into a dominant junior high basketball player, scoring 48 points in one game. Johnson was excited to play basketball at Sexton High School, a long history and a great basketball team only five blocks from his house. His intentions were drastically altered when he realized that he would be bussed to Everett High School, primarily white, rather than Sexton, predominantly black. Johnson's sister Pearl and brother Larry had taken the bus to Everett the previous year and had a wrong time. Racism was evident, with rocks thrown at black students' buses and white parents refusing to send their children to school. After a brawl during practice, Larry was expelled from the basketball team, forcing him to implore his brother not to play. Johnson did join the basketball team, but after a few days, he became enraged when his new friends refused to pass the ball to him during practice. Before head coach George Fox interfered, he was about to get into a confrontation with another player. Johnson eventually accepted his condition and became the head of a small group of black pupils. In his autobiography, My Life, he discussed how his time at Everett had transformed him:
Looking back on it now, I see the whole scene in a completely different light. True, I resented missing out on Sexton. And I was miserable at Everett for the first few months. On the other hand, being bussed to Everett turned out to be one of the most remarkable things that could have happened to me. It took me out of my shell and taught me how to comprehend white people, communicate with them, and deal with them.
Johnson earned the nickname "Magic" when he achieved a triple-double of 36 points, 18 rebounds, and 16 assists as a 15-year-old sophomore for Everett High School.
Following the game, Fred Stabley Jr., a sportswriter for the Lansing State Journal, awarded him the moniker, despite Johnson's Christian mother's view that the name was sacrilegious.
Johnson led Everett to a 27–1 win-loss record in his last high school season, averaging 28.8 points and 16.8 rebounds per game and leading his team to an overtime victory in the state title game. Johnson dedicated the win to his best buddy Reggie Chastine, who died in a vehicle accident the previous summer. He attributed much of his growth as a basketball player and as a person to Chastine, adding years later, "I doubted myself back then."  Johnson and Chastine were nearly often seen together, playing basketball or riding in Chastine's automobile. When Magic learned of Chastine's death, he hurried out of his house, sobbing violently. Johnson, who was named to the 1977 McDonald's All-American team and concluded his high school career with two All-State honors, was considered the best high school player ever to come out of Michigan.
Johnson was drafted into the NBA by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979. He did well in his first season, averaging 18 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.3 helpful assists per game.
Johnson won the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player awards for his play in driving the Lakers to a triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers, winning four of six games in the title series. His championship team additionally included such solid players as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jamaal Wilkes, and Norm Nixon.
During Magic Johnson's third season (1981-82) with the team, the Lakers made the NBA Finals once more. For the second time in his master career, the Lakers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers for the title.
Johnson's child Earvin III was born in 1992. Johnson and his significant other, Cookie, additionally have a girl named Elisa, whom they gave birth to in 1995. He additionally has a child, Andre Johnson, from a past relationship.
In November 1991, Magic Johnson retired from the Lakers in the wake of uncovering that he had HIV, the infection that causes AIDS. He confessed he got the disease through unprotected sex.
The diagnosis was particularly hard for Johnson. When he learned he had the sickness, his significant other Cookie was pregnant with their first kid. Luckily, their child, Earvin III, tested negative for HIV.
Johnson's choice to open up to the world about his ailment helped bring issues to light about the sickness. He built up the Magic Johnson Foundation to support HIV/AIDS investigation cures.Date modified: Sep 1, 2021
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