Deutsche Presse-Agentur (11.08.11) - Wednesday, November 09,
On Monday, basketball icon Magic Johnson marked the 20th
anniversary of his public announcement that he had HIV and
would be retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers. Many thought at
that time, in 1991, that Johnson was making his own death
announcement. Instead, he became one of the most widely known
people to educate others about the disease and created the
Magic Johnson Foundation, which has an HIV prevention focus.
Surrounded by friends, family, former teammates, and the media
at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Johnson presented a $1
million check to the foundation. Forty philanthropists,
including Johnson's former Lakers coach Pat Riley, raised the
donation by pledging $25,000 each.
"God is good," said Johnson. "Here I am 20 years later, wow,
what a blessing."
"I said 'I'm strong enough to deal with it between the two of
us, but I don't know if I'm strong enough to deal with this
and the whole world,'" said Johnson's wife, Cookie, recalling
the couple's discussion before he publicly revealed his
diagnosis. "But then he looked at me dead in the eyes and
said, 'Cookie, I have to do this because I have to save as
many lives as I possibly can.'"
The foundation planned to administer up to 5,000 free HIV
tests at 18 locations around the nation on Monday. It also has
partnered with the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare
Foundation to open full-service treatment centers in Los
Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, and Jacksonville, Fla.
"We've accomplished a lot in 20 years," Johnson said. "The
Magic Johnson Foundation has given out over $10 million and
tested about 250,000 people. We've done a lot and we will
continue to do a lot."
"It's been an amazing 20 years. Hopefully we have another
amazing 20 years coming," the former NBA great said.