“She Changed My Life”: Shedding Light on a Promise Made at a Deathbed 29 Years Ago, Magic Johnson Doubles Down on Why He Became “The Face Of” a Scary Virus

Published 09/29/2023, 5:30 AM EDT

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Fans across the globe know Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson for various reasons. First and foremost, the 5x NBA Champions’ prowess on the court. Notably, he was recently dragged into the best point guard ever debate with Stephen Curry.  The public also know about his untiring efforts in social welfare and charity, specifically in creating awareness around HIV/AIDS. The 64-year-old recently opened up about the origins of his good work, and how an activist played a major role in changing his life.

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Johnson’s explosive NBA career came to a standstill in 1991 when he contracted HIV. Considering the awareness and stigma surrounding the virus at the time, the point guard had a tough time facing the media. However, then 32-year superstar Magic Johnson took the bold call to announce it to the public.

Magic Johnson opened up about becoming a social icon

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Lakers legend Magic Johnson has been an advocate of AIDS awareness in the country after his retirement from the game. Notably, medication has helped him to keep the virus at an undetectable level. Moreover, he hasn’t developed the virus since then either. On the other hand, misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding the survivors still persist. And, Johnson has made it his duty to break the myth whenever he can. It was a vow he made to a friend 29 years ago.

He recently addressed a crowd, breaking a myth regarding the sexual relationships with HIV positive patient. He said HIV won’t transmit sexually if the patient has virus at undetectable level. Following that he spoke about Elizabeth Glaser and her major role in his battle against the virus.

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Magic has publicly stated that his recovery was in big part thanks to early detection and Elizabeth Glaser. The AIDS activist helped Magic cope by sharing her experiences with him.

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Furthermore, he revealed Glaser’s promise to him on her death bed. He added,  As American AIDS activist Elizabeth Glaser lay dying from AIDS, she changed my life and my wife Cookie’s life. She told me I would be here for a long time, but I needed to become the face of this disease.”

While Glaser convinced Magic to help reduce the stigma around the disease, the journey was not easy. And Magic couldn’t have done it without his loving wife.

Cookie’s role in Johnson’s battle

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Cookie had a tough time before marrying the Lakers legend.

Magic called off their marriage three times before finally tying the knot. Despite the hardships before marriage, she stood by him during his tough time.

In a recent interview, Johnson credited her for saving his life. He said, “This woman (Cookie Johnson) here, god let me know why I married her because losing her I probably wouldn’t be here, I’d probably be dead.”

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What do you make of Magic Johnson’s journey in battling the deadly virus? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.

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Written by:

Shahul Hameed

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Shahul Hameed is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports, where he brings his passion for sports and entertainment journalism to life. With a Master's Degree in journalism from a reputed institute and years of experience in the industry, Shahul always strives to provide insightful and astute coverage of the NBA to the fans. Shahul's love for sports writing dates back to his college days.
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Edited by:

Aakash Nair

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