Twenty Years Later, Magic Still Smiling

November 7, 2011

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He was known for his no-look passes, his uncanny court vision, his brilliant smile. And, 20 years ago today, Magic Johnson became known for something else -- HIV.

Magic announced his HIV-positive status and retired from basketball on the same day, though he would come back for a brief stint before retiring again. He started the Magic Johnson Foundation, which continues to develop and support inner-city health and education programs.

His announcement was a watershed moment for the African-American community in terms of confronting HIV/AIDS.

And for many Americans, of any skin color and background, it became one of those moments where you remember exactly where you were, as eloquently described by the Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke in today's column, "Magic Johnson remains a living symbol of hope."

There's been so much progress in the last 20 years, in medical advances and public understanding about HIV/AIDS. When Magic retired, few people would have expected him to still be living today.

But as he pointed out in his interview with ESPN today, there's still so much work to be done.

"This disease is still out here. We can't relax. We have to continue to raise the awareness level and continue to care for people with HIV/AIDS," Johnson said. "It was the hot topic 20 years ago, but today it's not the hot topic because something else is going on."

Categorized under Inside Story.

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