Magic Johnson Will Open Up About His HIV Diagnosis 30 Years Later in New Docuseries
By Mekishana Pierre
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It's been 30 years since Earvin "Magic" Johnson shook the world with his HIV diagnosis. Now, the five-time NBA champion is telling his story with an Apple TV+ documentary series.
In April 2020, the 62-year-old sports legend confirmed to ET that the docuseries was in the works, noting that it will focus on his basketball career as well as his family and business endeavors. "You get the basketball part of it, but then also how I reinvented myself and how I went into business and what I'm doing today, so it will all come into this documentary. I'm looking forward to it," he shared.
The series will explore the remarkable accomplishments and global impact of Magic's life, both on and off the court. From his humble beginnings in Lansing, Michigan, to becoming a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, he changed the conversation around HIV and transcended into a community activist and successful entrepreneur.
Directed by Dope's Rick Famuyiwa, the XTR and A New Slate Ventures production will feature never-before-seen footage and interviews with Magic, powerhouses from business and politics, and those in his inner circle. It's said to offer an unprecedented look at one of sports' all-time greats.
On the day of the announcement, Magic and his wife, Cookie Johnson, sat down with CBS Mornings, and opened up about his health and career three decades after being diagnosed with HIV.
Magic recalled being told his diagnosis after a routine physical ahead of the 1991-1992 NBA season and how frightened he was about how the virus would affect his wife and their then-unborn child.
"You just sit there and say, 'What does this mean? Am I gonna die?'" he told CBS Mornings co-host Gayle King, recalling the call back home from a pre-season game in Utah so that Lakers team physician Dr. Michael Mellman could deliver the news in person. "I'm asking him 100 times, 'Are you sure?' And they say, 'Hey, we ran the tests a couple of times, and yes, you do have HIV.' And so I just lost it right there."
Cookie shared that, although she understood that Magic's diagnosis was "probably through sexual contact" since he hadn't had any blood transfusions, she was more worried about his possible demise. The couple had only been married about a month before his diagnosis and they had just learned about her pregnancy.
"It wasn't how he got it that was important to me. It was, 'You're possibly going to die.' And that trumped everything," she said.
Thankfully, both Cookie and the baby's test results came back negative, which gave Magic enough peace of mind to confront his own health.
"I had to really learn a lot about the disease, HIV as well as AIDS. I had to make sure that I was open-minded enough to ask a lot of questions, go get a lot of information from different people," he said.
Magic went on to attack the HIV stigma, launching the Magic Johnson Foundation to raise awareness about the virus and pushing Congress and the White House to spend money to fight the disease. Today, the former NBA player runs point in the boardroom as CEO of his company which focuses on providing high-quality products and services to underserved communities. He also remains HIV-undetectable to this day, taking his medication every day.
"A cocktail, once a day," he said. "It went from three times a day, now just once. And so everything is great."
Want to watch when it premieres? The four-part docuseries will be streaming on Apple TV+. (We may receive an affiliate commission if you subscribe to a service through our links.)