Magic Johnson Fast Facts

CNN  — 

Here’s a look at the life of entrepreneur, philanthropist and NBA Hall of Fame point guard Magic Johnson.


Birth date: August 14, 1959

Birth place: Lansing, Michigan

Birth name: Earvin Johnson Jr.

Father: Earvin Johnson Sr., an autoworker

Mother: Christine Johnson, a school custodian

Marriage: Earlitha “Cookie” (Kelly) Johnson (1991-present)

Children: with Cookie Johnson: Elisa and Earvin III “EJ”; with Melissa Mitchell: Andre

Education: Attended Michigan State University, 1977-1979

Other Facts

Johnson is 6’9” tall.

The rivalry with Larry Bird, another NBA superstar, began in college. They became friends while shooting a Converse shoe commercial in 1984. They served as the first co-recipients of the NBA’s lifetime achievement award in 2019.

Helped the Lakers win five NBA championships: 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988.

Was the NBA Most Valuable Player three times: 1987, 1989 and 1990.

Has explained that the way he contracted HIV was through sexual encounters with multiple female partners in the 1980s.

He is chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, which owns radio stations, movie theaters, magazines, real estate, a cable network, sports teams, and invests in corporate partnerships.

Johnson is also the chairman and CEO of the Magic Johnson Foundation, which was created to assist in the fight against HIV/AIDS through awareness, prevention and education.


1974 - Earns the nickname “Magic” after a game his sophomore year of high school, in which he scores 36 points, 18 rebounds and 16 assists. Lansing State Journal sportswriter Fred Stabley Jr. is the first to call him Magic.

1975-1977 - Is named to the All-State team and leads his team to a state championship. He is heavily recruited by college basketball programs nationwide and chooses Michigan State University in East Lansing.

1978 - The Michigan State Spartans win the Big Ten Championship.

March 26, 1979 - MSU wins its first NCAA Championship. The Spartans defeat Bird and the Indiana State University Sycamores, 75-64. Johnson is named MVP.

1979 - Johnson leaves Michigan State to turn pro. He is the NBA first overall draft pick and is selected by the Los Angeles Lakers.

1980 - At 20 years old, Johnson is the youngest and the first rookie named the NBA Finals MVP. The Lakers win the series 4-2 over the Philadelphia 76ers.

1982 - Is named Finals MVP after a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

1986 - UCLA hosts the first annual Midsummer Night’s Magic All-Star charity basketball game. Players include Bird, Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan.

1987 - Is named Finals MVP after a 4-2 win over Bird and the Boston Celtics. He is also named League MVP.

1987 - Magic Johnson Enterprises is founded. Johnson is the chairman and CEO.

1988 - Johnson’s fifth NBA championship is the Lakers second championship win in two years, a 4-3 win over the Detroit Pistons.

November 7, 1991 - In a nationally televised press conference Johnson announces he is HIV positive and is retiring from the Lakers, effective immediately.

November 1991 - Establishes the Magic Johnson Foundation.

February 9, 1992 - Voted to the NBA All-Star game for the Western Conference by fans even though he had not played in a game that season. Is named MVP, with 25 points, three three-pointers, nine assists and five rebounds; the West defeats the East 153-113.

February 16, 1992 - The Lakers officially retire his number 32 jersey.

August 8, 1992 - The US Olympic basketball “Dream Team,” the first US Olympic team to include NBA players, wins the gold medal, beating Croatia 117-85 in the final game.

September 29, 1992 - Announces he will come out of retirement and play in the 1992-1993 season for the Lakers.

November 2, 1992 - Announces he is again retiring from basketball, due to the many NBA players voicing concern over possible health risks associated with such a high contact sport and Magic’s HIV status.

November 3, 1992 - His autobiography, “My Life,” is published.

March 23, 1993-April 24, 1994 - Head coach of the Lakers.

June 27, 1994 - Becomes 5% owner of the Lakers.

January 30, 1996 - Returns again to play for the Lakers. In his first game, the Lakers defeat the Golden State Warriors 128-118. NBA rules prohibit players from owning a team. Prior to his return, Johnson sells his interest in the team.

May 14, 1996 - Third, and final NBA retirement: “I am going out on my terms…”

October 1996 - Buys back the minority share of the team he sold to majority owner Jerry Buss earlier in the year.

1998-2010 - Partnership with Starbucks called Urban Coffee Opportunities “to build Starbucks stores in underserved neighborhoods.”

September 27, 2002 - Is inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. Bird introduces him.

November 4, 2009 - “When the Game Was Ours,” a book co-authored with Bird, is published.

March 6, 2010 - HBO debuts the documentary, “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals,” about the relationship between Johnson and Bird on and off the court.

October 2010 - Sells his shares of the Lakers.

March 2012 - Along with the Guggenheim Partners, Johnson wins a bidding war to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2.15 billion.

April 11-May 12, 2012 - The play “Magic/Bird,” the story of the rivalry and friendship of Johnson and Bird, runs on Broadway.

June 2012 - Launches a new cable television network, Aspire.

February 5, 2014 - WNBA announces Johnson and a group of investors are purchasing franchise Los Angeles Sparks.

October 2014 - Announces that he is part-owner of the Major League Soccer team, the Los Angeles Football Club.

February 21, 2017 - Johnson is named as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, as part of a restructuring plan. He will step away from his role at ESPN, where he was on the show “NBA Countdown.”

April 9, 2019 - Announces he is quitting as the Laker’s president of basketball operations.

May 2020 - Johnson announces that EquiTrust Life Insurance Co., of which he owns a majority, is providing $100 million in capital to fund federal loans for minority and women business owners who have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

March 6, 2022 - HBO debuts the scripted series “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” with the first season focusing on the drafting of Johnson and the 1979-1980 season.

April 22, 2022 - “They Call Me Magic,” a documentary focusing on Johnson’s life and NBA career, debuts on Apple TV+.