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Practical Magic: The Magic Johnson Foundation

By Sunnivie Brydum

On November 7, 1991, 6-foot 9-inch Los Angeles Lakers point guard Earvin “Magic” Johnson (with Hydeia Broadbent) rocked the sports world with his announcement that he was HIV-positive. The NBA All-Star and three-time Most Valuable Player defied the odds by becoming a long-term survivor, and his charitable organization, the Magic Johnson Foundation, launched that same year, has also endured. It’s an inspiring journey that is chronicled in the recent ESPN documentary The Announcement, now available on Netflix.

Today, the foundation seeks to “address the educational, health, and social needs of ethnically diverse urban communities” by advocating for community-based HIV/AIDS education, testing, and awareness as well as pushing for college access and digital literacy among ethnically diverse, socio-economically challenged young people.

The foundation goes about this work by hosting events such as the ERASE HIV Youth Summit, held in high schools in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and Miami, meant to give students current, relatable information and resources about HIV and help them sort through the facts, myths, and stigma about HIV and AIDS.

Among the Magic Johnson Foundation’s more notable achievements in the last 20 years: it’s provided direct services to over 250,000 students in 16 urban areas; awarded over $3 million in grants; provided free HIV testing to more than 38,000 Americans in 16 major cities; and educated nearly 280,000 people about HIV.

In addition, the organization observes an annual Point Forward Day on the anniversary of Johnson’s announcement, November 7 (and named for the position that Johnson played for the Lakers and the popular do-good phrase “pay it forward”). The day is another opportunity for the foundation to promote testing and education around HIV.

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