Those who know Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s basketball career only know half his story. Though he’s one of the most impressive players to ever lace up high-tops and hit the court, he’s also been a philanthropist, businessman, touring speaker and best-selling author since his retirement from basketball more than ten years ago.
Born on August 14, 1959, Johnson grew up in Lansing, Michigan, where he would wake up at 7:30 a.m. almost every day to work on his game. He earned the nickname “Magic” from sportswriter Fred Stabley Jr. when Stabley saw Johnson capture the state high school championship in 1977. Johnson went on to win an NCAA title at Michigan State and join the Los Angeles Lakers as a 1979 draft pick.
Johnson’s time with the Lakers is the stuff of basketball legend. He spent his entire basketball career with the team, garnering five NBA championship rings, nine appearances in the NBA finals, a gold medal from the 1992 Olympic Games, three MVP titles and appearances in 12 NBA All-Star Games.
Since then he’s been named one of the National Basketball Association’s 50 Greatest Players and entered the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Johnson has also spent his time since his retirement from basketball bringing entertainment and services to neglected urban communities around the country, including movie theaters, restaurants, health clubs and coffee shops. His entertainment companies produce animated, feature-length films and television programs.
Johnson also has a charity called the Magic Johnson Foundation, which provides grants to community-based scholarships and programs. Johnson is also a United Nations Messenger of Peace, and has worked with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Make a Wish Foundation, the United Negro College Fund and the American Cancer Society Foundation. He’s written several books, including his autobiography, “My Life,” “What You Can Do To Avoid AIDS,” in 1991 and “Magic’s Touch” in 1989.
Although Johnson is retired from the NBA, he still plays basketball regularly with the Magic Johnson All-Stars, a team comprised of former NBA players. As vice-president and co-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, Johnson is still a part of the team that made him a legend.
Johnson lives in Beverly Hills, CA with his wife Cookie and three children.