Former NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson had his professional career abruptly cut short when he was forced to retire in 1991 due to an HIV diagnosis. He has since devoted his life to fighting the disease and advocating safe sex. What many people don’t know is that he has also spent the last 20 years working closely with his local church.
Now that he has left his position as president of basketball operations for the L.A. Lakers, the charismatic former athlete will be dedicating more of his time and energy in service of his church.
“I wanted to get more involved with my church and working with Bishop Blake,” Johnson told The Associated Press (AP). Bishop Blake is a church leader at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ. Johnson and his wife Cookie have both been active members of the church for the past two decades.
Johnson has taken a special interest in the financial affairs of the church. With his guidance, the church has sold some of its properties. The proceeds from the sale has paid off the mortgage for their cathedral. There are also plans to build a family life center that would benefit 20,000 members who attend the church.
Johnson and Pastor Blake have been working together with other members of the church to make plans for the family life center. “It’s truly a blessing when you know what direction you’re going in. It’s such a change for me because now when I go to speak to corporations, I lead off by praising the Lord…You can touch somebody else to praise the Lord,” he said.
Apart from helping with the center, Johnson has also worked in tandem with the church on calamity relief efforts during hurricanes and natural disasters. He has also taken part in helping other members of the community through projects created by the church ministry.
Magic Johnson’s wife, Cookie Johnson, recalls the moment her NBA star husband told her he was HIV-positive.