“Devastated” Magic Johnson Mourns the Passing of Prominent HIV Activist: “We Will Miss Her Powerful Voice”

Published 02/21/2024, 8:41 PM EST

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The last 24 hours must have been a tough sail for Magic Johnson. The Los Angeles Lakers legend shared his sorrow for the demise of his NBA friend Robert Reid yesterday. Just a few hours later, famous HIV and AIDS activist Hydeia Broadbent bid farewell at the age of just 39. Life was never easy for Hydeia, who was born with the deadly disease. However, her courage at such a young age opened the eyes of many, including Johnson, who spoke about it in the wake of her passing. 

The 5x champion first met the activist in a Nickelodeon special, ‘A Conversation with Magic’ back in 1992. This was the year when Johnson retired from the NBA and revealed publicly that he had been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Hydeia was just a seven-year-old back then who had the same disease. Johnson shared, “In 1992, I did a Nickelodeon special called “A Conversation with Magic’, and 7-year-old Hydeia and I made an incredible impact.

In the show, to create a sense of belongingness and acceptance among society for the people affected by HIV, Hydeia spoke her heart out to Magic. Sobbing in agony, she said, “I just want people to know that we’re just normal people.” To which Johnson replied, “You don’t have to cry, because we are normal people. OK? We are.” These hard-hitting words from Hydeia created an impact and she wanted to continue with it for the rest of her life. 


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Like Magic said, “Hydeia changed the world with her bravery…Thanks to Hydeia, millions were educated, stigmas were broken, and attitudes about HIV/AIDs were changed. We will miss her powerful voice in this world.” The 3-time MVP shared the famous video of his interaction with Hydeia for Nickelodeon and a few pictures with her on his Instagram as a tribute to her demise.

There was a strong bond between Johnson and Hydeia. However, the impact he felt after meeting her for the first time helped him fight HIV and AIDS. 


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Magic Johnson revealed how Hydeia Broadbent became his inspiration 

Looking at a 7-year-old who was emotional and devastated, Johnson couldn’t help but listen to her with a broken heart. Yet he appreciated Hydeia for opening up and sharing her story with the world at such a young age. Revealing bitter things is never easy. Johnson decided that no one should go through the same dark feeling Hydeia went through. This was his inspiration to create awareness about it. 

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The LA legend has taken a lot of steps to educate people about HIV. The best one must be his documentary, “The Announcement”, which was released in 2012. The documentary speaks about Johnson’s battle after retirement. Notably, he also replayed his interview with Hydeia from 1992 in the movie as part of his efforts. Hydeia devoted her whole life to the cause; she chose to spread awareness about the disease, fought towards breaking the stigma around it, became a beacon of hope for many, and even inspired an NBA star like Johnson.


Written by:

Rohan Dharmalingam


One take at a time

Rohan Dharmalingam is an NBA beat writer at EssentiallySports, who extensively covers the Lakers. Be it a multimillion dollar deal breaking or a classic throwback, Rohan has covered the many themes and formats. Most notably, his coverage received a shoutout from the Purple & Gold icon Shaquille O'Neal and the rap legend 50 Cent, on Instagram.
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Edited by:

Tushhita Barua