Remembering the power of Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s Brave Announcement

On Nov. 7, 1990 Earvin “Magic” Johnson revealed he was HIV-positive and announced his retirement from professional basketball


On Nov. 7, 1991, Los Angeles Lakers point guard and NBA All-Star Earvin “Magic” Johnson stood in a room packed with reporters and made an announcement that would rock the world of professional sports.

“Because of the HIV virus that I have, I will have to retire from the Lakers,” he said. “I just want to say that I’m going to miss playing. I will now become a spokesmen for the HIV virus because I want people to realize that they can practice safe sex.”

Years later, in the ESPN documentary, “The Announcement,” Magic would recall how alienated and alone he felt in the month’s following his admission.

“I wasn’t Magic, I was this guy who was just so devastated that he gave up on life,” he said. “Finally, I said, ‘Look, I need to go find someone who is living with HIV so they can help me understand what I have to look forward to and what I have to deal with.’”

That’s when Magic turned to EGPAF founder, Elizabeth Glaser. True to her spirit, Elizabeth didn’t sugar coat what life would be like for Magic and his family.

“She told me, ‘The only thing I want from you is to be the face of this disease – this disease needs a face,’” Magic said. “Elizabeth inspired me.”

Magic Johnson went on to embrace his role as an HIV/AIDS spokesmen, turning the press’ fascination with his illness into a powerful platform to speak out against stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV.  Today, 22 years later, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) honors Magic’s bravery and continued commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

EGPAF and the Magic Johnson Foundation will continue to work in concert to carry on a mission inspired by Elizabeth Glaser – to eliminate HIV/AIDS.

To learn how you can stand up for HIV-positive mothers and families everywhere, visit our Get Involved page .