Who would have thought that a business empire would serve as the backdrop to Magic Johnson's Basketball Hall of Fame career?
Certainly not Magic himself, especially back on November 7, 1991. The outlook for the next phase of Johnson's life that day seemed bleak, to say the least. That's because it was the infamous date that he announced his devastating HIV diagnosis to the world.
However, with today being the 25th anniversary of that shocking announcement, the five-time NBA champion is in tip-top health and his Magic Johnson Enterprises is booming.
That being said, Johnson took to his The Playbook website Monday to reflect on a day that initially signaled his doom but now is one that currently represents his celebration.
In an inspirational letter titled "Life Is Going to Go On for Me," Magic powerfully declares today as a "celebration of life, a celebration of what some people thought was a death sentence 25 years ago."
"God brings you through challenges to understand His power and His purpose for your life," Johnson pens early on in the moving letter before remembering that frightful day of delivering his announcement exactly 25 years ago.
"November 7, 1991, was a life changing day that I never saw coming," he continues. "However, unlike the excitement that characterized the summer of 1979 [when Johnson was the NBA's No. 1 draft pick], it was followed by despair. Up until then, I thought the hardest thing I’d ever done was play against Michael Jordan or Larry Bird, but on this day I began the fight of my life. This day, I began to realize how God was working in my life. My faith gave me strength to stand up and tell the world that I had contracted Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)."
He added, "Though I had accepted my new status, telling the world was a different ordeal. In the early 1990s hearing about anyone with HIV/AIDS meant that they didn’t have long to live. I felt it was my duty to educate as many people as I could about the disease. It was then that I began my new journey to walk every day in God’s purpose. Today, I continue to do everything I can to bring awareness and education about this disease to the community."
He goes on to explain how that trying day led to his businesses and helping to "uplift and impact the underserved community by bringing quality goods and services to urban neighborhoods" becoming his new passion.
"Out of necessity, I was forced to rethink my life and adjust. It was vital for me to adapt from the life of an NBA player to that of a spokesman for HIV/AIDS and a businessman," Johnson said. "Whether out of necessity or desire, change is inevitable. Trusting in God and accepting His plan for my life is a big part of why I am here today. My growth and development as a person and as a businessman have transformed over the last 25 years."
Johnson actually spoke about making that life jump during Friday's episode of The Steve Harvey Show.
Johnson's poignant letter also evokes memories of his wife Cookie's memoir, Believing in Magic, in which she remembers the painful day Johnson broke the news about his HIV diagnosis to her.
Tried, true and still an inspiration — salute to Magic Johnson. Twenty-five years later and he's still going strong.
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(Photo: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
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