A retired American NBA basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, Magic Johnson reached the zenith of his career during the 1980s. As a point guard for the Lakers, he led the team to win five NBA Championships in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1989. He was named NBA’s Finals Most Valuable Player and NBA’s Most Valuable Player three times and NBA’s All-Star Game MVP twice. Johnson also played in 12 All-Star games and became a member of the All-NBA First Team nine times and the All-NBA Second Team once. Starting his pro career in 1979, Johnson was forced to take temporarily retirement in 1991 after contracting the virus HIV, but enjoyed some success the following year when he joined the “Dream Team” for the Barcelona Olympic Game and nabbed his second NBA All-Star Game MVP Award. He briefly coached the Lakers in 1994 and resurfaced as a player the following year before eventually retiring at the end of the season. Prior to his professional career, he played for Michigan State University and led the team to win the 1979 NCAA Championship, where he was also voted the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Johnson was also a star player at Lansing Everett High School.
For his dedication to basketball, the retired player was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. Six years before, in 1996, he was selected as one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players.
Outside the court, Johnson, who became the first NBA player to publicly announce he was HIV positive, decided to dedicate his life to raising awareness about the AIDS epidemic. He is the founder of The Magic Johnson Foundation, a charity organization for AIDS education and an active philanthropist for social issues. After his retirement, Johnson began some business projects, including Magic Johnson Theatres and a Starbucks Coffee in Harlem. He also served as executive producer for several TV and film projects, including his debut, “The Magic Hour” (1998), a late night talk show that aired on Fox, which he also hosted.
Johnson has been married to wife Cookie Johnson since 1991. The couple has a son and an adopted daughter. Johnson also has a 27-year-old son named Andre who was mothered by Melissa Mitchell.
Childhood and Family:
Earvin Johnson, Jr. was born on August 14, 1959, in Lansing, Michigan, to Earvin Johnson Sr., a General Motors laborer, and Christine Johnson, a school janitor. He came from a big family with ten children, a condition that forced his parents to work hard to provide their kids a proper living. Growing up in Lansing, MI, young Johnson developed a love for basketball at an early age and was a star player for Lansing Everett High School. It was in his sophomore year that Johnson got the nickname “Magic” from a local sportswriter after he dominated a high school game by scoring 36 points, catching 16 rebounds and doling out 16 assists. Upon graduating, he attended Michigan State University to study journalism, but left school in his sophomore year to embark on his professional basketball career.
On September 14, 1991, Johnson married Earlitha “Cookie” Kelly. The couple welcomed their first child, son Earvin III, on June 4, 1992. Three years later, the couple adopted daughter Elisa. Johnson also has a son named Andre Johnson (born in February 1981), from former girlfriend Melissa Mitchell.
In addition to “Magic,” Johnson is also known by the nickname “Buck.”
Magic Johnson Theatres
A product of a crowded family with ten kids, Magic Johnson grew up being the only member of the household to love basketball. As a youngster, he dribbled a basketball on trips to store and woke up early to play on the court. He said, “I practiced all day. I dribbled to the store with my right hand and back with my left. Then I slept with my basketball.”
A star athlete, Johnson led Lansing Everett High School to win the state championship and went on to pursue a college career with Michigan State University, where he again became a star player. In his freshman year, in addition to achieving a spot in the NCAA tournament, he led the Spartans to the Big Ten Conference championship and a 25-5 record while averaging 17.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.4 assists. Excelling in all aspects of the game, he was placed as a point guard the following season and led his team to the NCAA title in 1979, during which time the Spartans beat the Indiana State University team, whose players included senior forward Larry Bird. Shortly thereafter, Johnson left college to turn professional.
Entering the NBA Draft in 1979, Johnson signed to the Los Angeles Lakers for over a half-million dollars a year after The New Orleans Jazz, who originally had the first draft pick, traded him for NBA star Gail Goodrich. A productive scorer and rebounder, he successfully brought the first of five NBA Championships for the Lakers and took home the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award, a success that made the 22-year-old the only rookie ever to do so. He also made his debut on the All-Star Team in 1980, a spot he would later reprise for 11 more times during 1982 to 1992.
Johnson spent the 1980-1981 NBA season playing only 37 games due to a serious knee injury. Despite the set back, he became the center of attention after signing a multi-million dollar contract with the Lakers. Again, Johnson drew controversy when after a dispute with couch Paul Westhead, he requested to be traded unless they agreed to fire Westhead. As a result, Westhead was discharged the next day and replaced by assistant couch Pat Riley. As for Johnson, he received harsh criticism for the incident.
In respond to the unfavorable judgment, Johnson averaged 18.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 9.5 assists per game during the 1981-82 NBA season and was selected to join the All-NBA Second Team. The Lakers picked up their next championship in 1982 and Johnson won his second NBA Finals MVP award. Although the Lakers failed to claim the following year's NBA championship, Johnson experienced another prominent season and was picked to be a member of the All-NBA First Team.
In 1984, Johnson and the Lakers entered the NBA Finals, but lost to the Boston Celtics. Johnson's performances were not as outstanding as usual and he was blamed for the failure due to a number of errors he made during the crucial games. Celtics forward Kevin McHale even teased him by referring to him as “Tragic Johnson.” 1985 saw the Lakers and Johnson make a triumphant comeback by nabbing their third NBA championship.
Two years later, Johnson proved he was back on track by racking up 23.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 12.2 assists that led to his first MVP award. He gained a further boost by leading the Lakers to win the 1987 NBA Championship, defeating the Celtics in the Finals for a 4-2 record, and bringing home the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award for the third time. 1988 proved to be another prolific year for Johnson and with his teammates, he secured the NBA Championship in the finals against the Detroit Pistons.
Johnson went on to win two consecutive NBA MVP Awards in 1989 and 1990 and enjoyed strong seasons until the 1991-1992 NBA seasons. In November 1991, he publicly disclosed that he was affected with HIV and would retire from basketball. The announcement stunned the NBA world and he was then put on the list of injured players. During the retirement, Johnson set up the Magic Johnson Foundation to raise funds for AIDS education.
However, in 1992, Johnson made an auspicious comeback and won the NBA All-Star Game MVP, his second award since 1990. He also joined the U.S. basketball team to compete in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, where the “Dream Team” won the gold medal. In the tournament, he suffered knee injuries and only participated in a few of the games.
After the success, Johnson planned to return to the NBA but complaints from other players prevented him from doing so. In 1994, he emerged as a couch for the Lakers, but left the post after losing 11 of 16 games. A year later, Johnson returned to the court as a player, but retired at the end of that season.
“I am a businessman. This is what I do each and every day. I love it. I love coming to work. I never have a bad day.”
Following his permanent retirement from the NBA, Johnson began a career as a businessman. In 1995, he founded the Magic Johnson Theatres, a joint venture project with movie giant Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. He also opened a Starbucks Coffee in Harlem, where he also served as an advocate of economic development, and began joint ventures with T.G.I. Friday's and Hewlett Packard.
In 1998, Johnson branched out to television as the talk show host with Fox's “The Magic Hour,” which he also produced. The program, however, was canceled after a few months. Since then, the founder of the Magic Johnson Entertainment has executive produced several programs like the TV films “Passing Glory” (1999) and “Crossover” (2004), the series “Where There's a Will” (2004) and the motion pictures “Brown Sugar” (2002, starred Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan and Mos Def) and “Hair Show” (2004, starred Gina Torres). His new film, “The Black Man's Guide to Understanding Black Women,” a drama directed by Greg Carter, is set to be released in 2008. The film stars LisaRaye and Wesley Jonathan.
NBA All-Star Game MVP: 1990, 1992
NBA MVP: 1987, 1989, 1990
NBA Champion: 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987-1988
NCAA Championship: 1979
NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player: 1979