They Call Me Magic: Magic Johnson
Premiering worldwide on Apple TV+ on April 22, “They Call Me Magic” explores the remarkable accomplishments and global impact of Johnson’s life, both on and off the court. From his humble beginnings in Lansing, Michigan to becoming a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, he changed the conversation around HIV and transcended into a community activist and successful entrepreneur. Featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews with Magic, his family, powerhouses from business and politics, and those in his inner circle, the series will offer an unprecedented look at one of the biggest cultural icons of our era.
How did your faith sustain you through the challenging period following your HIV diagnosis?
Magic Johnson: Faith was everything. I always lean on my faith. God has truly blessed me to come through a lot of challenges in my life. Especially, when I think about HIV, always being there for me and helping me make the right decisions when I need to make tough decisions. Also, just blessed me with the best wife that a man could have in Cookie and our children and grandchildren. So, I lean on my faith all the time. I will never stop doing that. Loving the Lord, loving God and I just thank Him every day for everything that He’s blessed me with.
Talk about your mother and how her faith influenced your life.
Magic Johnson: Oh, my mother is everything. I’m a mama’s boy. I love my mother to death. We’re tight, we’re close. She instilled… It was interesting. She’s a woman of huge faith. She’s very involved in her church and she raised us the same way. All the kids to be involved in the church. And we’re all involved in our different ways.
She has always prayed for me and has always been there for me. And the one thing I love, my mother has a gentle touch about her. So when I go home to Lansing, just to get that hug and to get her famous sweet potato pie and apple pie, and to sit back and just talk to her, that really makes me feel good. And she’s going to come to LA in a couple weeks and stay with us for a month. And I can’t wait to see her, but she has influenced my life to give back. That’s the reason I give back so much is because of my mother. And I love her for that.
How was your experience in Cleveland for the NBA All Star Game where the top 75 players of all time were introduced?
Magic Johnson: Oh, I enjoyed Cleveland. I tell you I had some great meals there. The food was excellent. The people were outstanding, but then they were very organized. The mayor and his team did an outstanding job of securing everybody, but also getting everybody in and out of the venues. We were able to give back. I had an event with the mayor and the Cleveland Cavaliers as well as Commissioner Silver. We did some great things in the community there. And so my time was excellent.
And then to be with the top 75 of all time NBA players, oh man, it was just like a big family reunion. We just loved seeing each other, being with each other, taking pictures with each other and also we were pinching ourselves saying, we can’t believe that we’re one of the top 75 players, best players of all time in the NBA. So, I think we were all amazed too at the same time.
You have overcome a huge number of challenges since your HIV announcement, but it seems like these days, including becoming the first black owner in MLB history, that you are going stronger than ever with your work of your foundation and corporations that contribute to its success of helping young people. What have been some of the recent highlights for you, Magic?
Magic Johnson: We continue to send young people to college. That’s a highlight. A lot of them are still in college today and doing very well. I think when I think about all the different HIV and AIDS clinics, we open, I think about all the empowerment centers, about 20 of them that I’ve opened in the poorest neighborhoods. So they can have access to a computer. That’s very important. Also to my infrastructure company and what we’re doing, building smart cities so that the pandemic hurt the black and brown community here in America. Those kids didn’t have access to the internet and now we’re going to connect them and build broadband so they can be connected. They can do their homework. So that’s very important through these tough cities and poor cities. So I’m excited about everything that I’m doing today, creating jobs for young people. So there’s so many things I’m excited about and you’ll see a lot of that in the doc series as well.
How did you develop as a basketball player, how do you see the court to be able to make those legendary passes?
Magic Johnson: It’s a secret. Shhhh. I can’t tell everybody. No, I think really it’s just, I always wanted to make my teammates better. I cared about more, I cared about passing the ball more than I cared about scoring myself and what I wanted to do was entertain the crowd all at the same time. So, I just had to perfect the no look pass and set my teammates up for an easy shot. I had to make sure I didn’t turn the ball over though. I had to make sure it got to my teammates and I love hearing the crowd go, “Ah!” And then when the guy scored, my teammate scored, they go, “Oh.” And then they went to the office talking about that pass. “Can you believe what Magic did last night? He did a no look pass and we went crazy.”
I love hearing that. So that’s why I love, really, I’m going to tell you really a secret. I love watching the doc series because I get to see myself play, but don’t tell nobody. Okay? My staff who are young people came and said, gave me the ultimate compliment. They was like, “Man, we were born too late,” to see my Showtime Lakers play and see me play. So it’s great.
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