Book Summary – My Life: Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

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In My Life: Earvin “Magic” Johnson, former NBA player Magic Johnson writes about how he dealt with the greatest challenge of his life: HIV diagnosis. He also delves into his life, on and off the court, his family and friends that stood behind him during the most trying time. He describes his relationship with former teammates, coaches, friends, and rivals such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Pat Riley, Larry Bird, Micheal Jordan, and Isiah Thomas. Magic also reflects on growing up in East Lansing, Michigan, the showtime Los Angeles Lakers, his relationship with women, and his fight against HIV and AIDS awareness advocacy.

Magic writes about his wife Cookie, who he had been dating since college, retirement, and post-retirement. My Life: Earvin “Magic” Johnson is a very inspirational book on how to brave the toughest challenge of life such as a health scare diagnosis like Magic experienced. Magic smile is always radiant and gives testament that no matter what happens in life, we can always make the best use of our circumstances and keep it moving.

In 1991, Magic Johnson discovered he had HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) which he contracted through having multiple sexual partners. Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. is often regarded as the greatest point guard of all time. Magic was selected as the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers after winning a national championship with Michigan State University. He led the team to five NBA championships, also winning three NBA MVP Awards, three NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Awards, and appearing in nine NBA Finals, 12 All-Star games, and nine All-NBA First Team selections. 

Magic Johnson announced his retirement from the NBA after his HIV diagnosis and he started the Magic Johnson Foundation which sought to combat HIV. He returned to play in the 1992 All-Star Game, winning the All-Star MVP Award. Magic was a member of the 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team (“The Dream Team”), which won the Olympic gold medal in Barcelona, Spain.

Growing Up

Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. was born on August 14, 1959, in Lansing, Michigan to General Motors assembly worker Earvin Sr. and school janitor Christine. The middle of seven children. His parent had three other kids before they were married. Earvin’s parent called him Junior and to his friends, he was E.J. or sometimes just E.

Father – Eavin Sr.

“Dad was my idol, so I paid close attention to the way he handled his money. As a way of forcing himself to save, he always kept two or three uncashed checks in his wallet. There were times when I thought he was a little too careful, especially when he wouldn’t buy me something I thought I needed. But I’d hear, “You can’t five dollars, Junior? Here, take the lawn mower. There’s a lot of grass in this town, and I bet you could earn that money real quick.”

Dad enjoyed dressing up for parties. I used to look forward to the day I could dress like him. When GQ put me on their cover a few years ago, I was so proud that I sent it to him right away. He loved the old blues singers like B.B. King and Muddy Waters.

Mother – Christine

If my work ethic and some of my habits come from my father, a lot of my personality comes from my mom. People talk about my smile, but my smile is her smile. Most people can make you happy by doing certain things, but Christine Johnson can make you happy by doing almost anything. She just lights up every place she goes.

She was always working. As soon as the twins were old enough to walk, she took a job as. a school custodian. Later, she worked in a cafeteria. After standing all day, she would come home to look after seven of us, with all our complaints and squabbles.

Hoop Love

My Father’s favorite player was Wilt Chamberlain, but we used to watch all the greats: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson from Milwaukee, Bill Russell and John Havlicek from the Celtics, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West from the Lakers. During the games, my father would point out the subtleties of the pick-and-roll play, and explain the various defensive strategies.

We’d play one-on-one, and he always beat me. He was really good, but he also played tough. He taught me to win against the odds, and never to quit.

I wanted to be good, so I practiced and played constantly. As hard as my father worked on his jobs, I worked on the basketball court. But I always found a way to make it fun. When I was alone, I’d play fantasy full-court games between Philadephia and Detroit. These always boiled down to a one-on-one confrontation between my two favorites, Wilt Chamberlain and Dave Bing. I’d be Chamberlain going one way and Big the other.

Bill Russell

Watching those NBA games with my father, I studied the great players and tried to learn from them all. Bill Russell was always a big favorite of the grown-ups because they appreciated his brilliant defensive moves. Well, Russell was a great player, all right, but what I admired most about him had nothing to do with his moves. It was all those championships he had won with the Celtics. That’s all I ever wanted – to be a winner.

Marques Haynes

There was one more player I idolized, although he never played the NBA, Marques Haynes, known as the “World’s Greatest Dribbler,” started out with the Harlem Globetrotters and then left them in 1953 to form his own tea,, the Harlem Magicians. Whenever Marques Haynes came to town, my dad would take me to see him.

Becoming Magic

The year I came to Everret we were picked to finish last. But we got off in a great start and won our first six games. Then came a game against Jackson Peterside, which I’ll never forget. They were picked to finish first, and they were very good. But we were better, and we just finished with 36 points, 18 rebounds, and 16 assists. A triple-double, although back then, nobody used that phrase. After the game, Fred Stabley, Jr.,. a sportswriter for the Lansing State Journal, came into our locker room as usual.

“Great game, Eavin, ” he said.
Thanks. “
“Listen, Eavin, I think you should have a nickname. I was thinking of calling you Dr. J., but that’s taken. And so is Big E –Elvin Hayes. How about if I call you Magic?

To me, being known as Magic Johnson has always been an honour and a great motivator. I’ve spent the rest of my career trying to live up to it.


Growing up in Lansing Michigan, Magic used to clean the offices of two successful black businessmen – Joel Ferguson and Gregory Eaton. “In those days, I never dreamed that someday I would play basketball for a living. My goal was to be a rich businessman, just like Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Eaton.

“Dad didn’t believe in handouts. So as a kid, the only way I could get my hands on spending money was to go out and earn it. By the time I was ten, I had my own little neighbourhood business. I raked leaves, cleaned yards, and shovelled snow. With the money I earned, I could go to the movies and buy an occasional record.”

Decision Time

By my senior year, recruiters were all over me. Before long there were so many calls that we had to change our phone number. But even that didn’t help much. The moment you’d hang up the phone, it would ring again, with another college on the line. The calls kept coming, from nine in the morning until eleven-thirty at night. What had started as a drill soon became incredibly tedious. And since recruiters were always showing up on our doorstep, I would stand for hours outside our house or in front of the school building just so I’d know who they were. Will Jones, the assistant coach of Maryland, practically lived in Lansing, Every time I looked up, there he was. But he was only doing his job, and he was never unpleasant about it.

The whole town of Lansing got involved in trying to influence me in the direction of State. Black, white, it didn’t matter.

Meeting Cookie

The most important thing that happened to me at Michigan State was meeting Cookie.
Cookie: “I had just broken up with my high school boyfriend. He had decided to stay in Detroit and wanted me to stay, too. He said “If you go to Michigan State, You’re going to meet Earvin Johnson, I just know it. ” At the time, I didn’t even know who he was talking about.”

We met at Dooley’s, and Cookie was out there dancing all night. She was a beautiful dancer, and I just sat back and watched her. As she was leaving, I asked for her phone number. She said, “You won’t even remember my name after the break.”

Winning NCAA Championship with Michigan State

During the 1978–79 season, Michigan State again qualified for the NCAA tournament, where they advanced to the championship game and faced Indiana State, which was led by senior Larry Bird. In what was the most-watched college basketball game ever, Michigan State defeated Indiana State 75–64, and Johnson was voted Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.  He was selected to the 1978–79 All-American team for his performance that season.

As I turned back to join the celebration, I Knew in my gut that this wasn’t the end of the story. Somewhere, somehow, Larry Bird and I would be seeing each other again.

LA Lakers

After two years in college, Eavin entered the 1979 NBA draft. He was drafted first overall by the Los Angeles Lakers. “When I left Los Angeles that day, I was the highest-paid rookie in the history of the NBA. That lasted for about a month. Then the Celtics signed Larry Bird for $600,000.

Be wary of Peripheral Opponents – Pat Riley

“He planned all his pregame speeches, writing them out in advance with a blue felt-tipped pen on a blue card. He was continually reading books, looking for quotes that might motivate us. And he loved inspirational one-liners like “No rebounds, no rings.”.

WHAT IS HUSTLE? He once wrote on the blackboard before a game. HUSTLE = HARD WORK? NO! HUSTLE IS A TALENT. Or he’d say, “What do you get when you squeeze an orange? Orange juice. Put anything under pressure and you’ll bring out what’s inside.”

Put anything under pressure and you’ll bring out what’s inside.

This was the sort of thing he liked to say when playoff time came around. That’s when money and pride were on the line, and when even the casual fans started tuning in. And that’s when Pat Riley was at his most intense. “Tell your friends and family to leave you alone,” he’d say. “Tell them you’re unavailable for the next few weeks. You’ve got to give these games your complete concentration. If you want to win that diamond ring, you have to make sacrifices.” There was no music in the locker room at playoff time. He even unplugged the phone in the training room.

He tried to eliminate everything that might disturb our focus. He was especially wary of what he called “peripheral opponents” – which meant anyone who would divert your energy and your concentration away from basketball. This included friends who wanted tickets, agents who came to you with endorsements, and especially the media, who wanted interviews.

Another peripheral opponent was the referees – but only if we allowed them to be. Riley didn’t want to see any of us arguing with an official, because that was a distraction, When a team starts complaining about the calls, it’s usually a sign that they’ve lost their concentration and their desire to win.

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