Collected wisdom: Magic Johnson talks about his life, parents and more

Hall of Famer says he's ‘blessed' to have lived 21 years with HIV
by Darnell Mayberry Published: October 20, 2012


photo - Magic Johnson gives the keynote speech at the 2012 Champions of Health Gala at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Monday, Oct. 8, 2012. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Magic Johnson gives the keynote speech at the 2012 Champions of Health Gala at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Monday, Oct. 8, 2012. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson was the keynote speaker at the ninth annual Champions of Health gala in Oklahoma City recently, celebrating people and organizations aiming to improve the health of Oklahomans.

In his 35-minute speech, Johnson looked back on his life and opened up about the things he's most passionate about, including his health, businesses and philanthropy.

I couldn't pass up playing with Kareem (Abdur-Jabbar) after I already accomplished what I wanted to accomplish in college, which was winning a national championship.

When I went to the Lakers, we had an incredible run. We went to the Finals nine times in 12 years. We were able to win five of those.

I was able to do what I did on that court because I was able to take care of my body and make sure that I stayed healthy.

When I found out 21 years ago I had HIV, I had to really take care of my body. That meant working out, eating right, taking my meds and doing all the things I had to do to be here for 21 years. And God blessed me to be here 21 years.

I said, ‘here I am blessed with this incredible brand and platform that I built on the basketball court. I want to carry that over to the boardroom.' But I had to make sure that I learned business. So I took my ego out of it … I met with 20 successful people, took them to lunch and picked their brains. Then I could build some strategies about what I wanted to do.

I said I'm going to do everything I can to invest my money in urban America. At that time, there was no new development around the country in urban America.


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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