On Thursday, Nov. 7, 1991, Earvin “Magic” Johnson made people stop and watch at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. But this time it wasn’t his basketball brilliance as a perennial NBA All-Star and three-time MVP that was captivating audiences worldwide. Instead, the 32-year-old groundbreaking point guard was holding a press conference to make the stunning announcement that he was HIV-positive and would be retiring from basketball immediately. But the shock of this declaration went deeper. Having the AIDS virus in 1991 was widely seen as a death sentence, and the commonly held belief was that we would be watching a beloved sports hero die excruciatingly and swiftly in front of our eyes. Yet Magic had a different narrative in mind. He defied the odds, not just surviving, but truly living and prospering. From his MVP performance in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, his participation on the original Olympic “Dream Team” later that year and an NBA comeback in 1996, to his astounding success as a businessman, philanthropist and ambassador in the fight against AIDS, Magic has lived up to the promise of his nickname.
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