Magic Johnson HIV Announcement 20 Years Later
Twenty years ago, on Nov. 7, 1991 Los Angeles Lakers superstar Magic Johnson held a press conference to announce he was retiring from basketball because he had been diagnosed with H.I.V.
As the press and basketball fans everywhere watched stunned, it was a wonder how one of the world’s greatest basketball players could be H.I.V. positive? Especially since he was only 32-years-old and in the prime of his career.
"I was stunned," Bob Costas told the Los Angeles Times. "My immediate thought was, knowing what we thought we knew about HIV, we would watch Magic Johnson die a public death, that he would waste away. This was what we thought we understood about the virus, that his days were numbered."
In 1991, there was still not much known about H.I.V and how it was possible to live with the disease. There was still a stigma attached to the disease that gave you an automatic death sentence once you were diagnosed.
Twenty years later, we see the resilience that has made Magic Johnson one of the greatest athletes of all-time. Rather than retire and hide away, Johnson used his celebrity status and became a major advocate for the fight against AIDS.
Johnson has pushed forward to educate the masses about HIV and AIDS, while continuing to become one of the most celebrated athletes and businessmen to date.
"I plan on going on, living for a long time, bugging you guys like I always have," Magic said in his announcement 20 years ago. "So you'll see me around. I plan on being with the Lakers and the league. Hopefully David will have me for a while. And going on with my life. I guess I get to enjoy some of the other sides of living."
Magic may not have been sure what his future had in store for him that faithful day, but his faith and resilience makes him "living proof" of medical progress in the treatment of HIV and AIDS.