On This Date: November 7th

Nov 7, 1991:

Magic Johnson announces he is HIV positive

On this day in 1991, basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson stuns the world by announcing his sudden retirement from the Los Angeles Lakers, after testing positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. At the time, many Americans viewed AIDS as a gay white man’s disease. Johnson (1959- ), who is African American and heterosexual, was one of the first sports stars to go public about his HIV-positive status.

Los Angeles Lakers Magic Johnson and Boston Ce...

Revered as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Johnson spent his entire 13-season NBA career with the Lakers, helping them to win five championships in the 1980s. The 6’9″ point guard, a native of Lansing, Michigan, was famous for his extraordinary passing skills, contagious smile and love of the game. In 1981, he signed a 25-year deal with the Lakers for $25 million, one of the NBA’s first over-the-top contracts.

Johnson, a three-time NBA “Most Valuable Player” and 12-time All-Star team member, didn’t completely hang up his basketball shoes after announcing his retirement in 1991.  He was voted most valuable player of the 1992 NBA All-Star Game and played on the Olympic “Dream Team” (alongside Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Patrick Ewing) that won gold for the U.S. in Barcelona that summer. He briefly returned to the Lakers for the 1993-94 season as head coach and made a short-lived comeback as a Lakers player in the 1995-96 season.

NBA Hall of Famer, Earvin "Magic" Jo...

Today, Johnson is a prominent spokesman for AIDS awareness and a successful businessman, earning millions from a range of ventures, including movie theaters and restaurants. He serves as an example of how a variety of drug treatments have transformed AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition for many people in the U.S. Still, some 25 years after the first AIDS cases were reported, 25 million people worldwide have died of AIDS and another 40 million have been infected with the virus.

Also on This Day

American Revolution
Post office stays in the Franklin family, 1776
Art Arfons sets land-speed record, 1965
Civil War
North and South clash at the Battle of Belmont, 1861
Cold War
Gaither Report calls for more U.S. missiles and fallout shelters, 1957
A family is brutally murdered, 1983
Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapses, 1940
General Interest
Canada’s transcontinental railway completed, 1885
Tacoma Bridge collapses, 1940
FDR reelected a record third time, 1944
Two African American firsts in politics, 1989
“King of Cool” Steve McQueen dies, 1980
French novelist Albert Camus is born, 1913
Singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell is born, 1943
Old West
Jeannette Rankin becomes first U.S. congresswoman, 1916
FDR wins unprecedented fourth term, 1944
Magic Johnson announces he has HIV, 1991
Vietnam War
U.S. intelligence asserts numbers of North Vietnamese in South Vietnam growing, 1964
McNamara shouted down at Harvard speech, 1966
Nixon re-elected president, 1972
World War I
First issue of The New Republic published, 1914
World War II
Soviet master spy is hanged by the Japanese, 1944

This Week in History, Nov 7 – Nov 13


Nov 07, 1991
Magic Johnson announces he is HIV positive
Nov 08, 1895
German scientist discovers X-rays
Nov 09, 1938
Nazis launch Kristallnacht
Nov 10, 1969
Sesame Street debuts
Nov 11, 1918
World War I ends
Nov 12, 1954
Ellis Island closes
Nov 13, 1982
Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedicated
Story from HISTORY.COM

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