Magic Upbeat 20 Years After HIV Diagnosis (VIDEO)

Source: Dave McMenamin / ESPN

LOS ANGELES — Twenty years to the day after shocking and saddening the world by announcing his retirement after contracting the HIV virus, Earvin “Magic” Johnson had reason to smile Monday.

“God is good,” Johnson said, speaking in front of a group of friends, family and media members on the Staples Center floor. “Here I am 20 years later. Wow. What a blessing.”

Johnson used the occasion of the 20th anniversary of his HIV announcement to present a $1 million check to the Magic Johnson Foundation, raised by 40 philanthropists close to Johnson who pledged $25,000 apiece.

“I’ve always been a leader my whole life,” Johnson said. “I’ve always led. I didn’t know how to do anything else. I never thought I had to lead in the HIV and AIDS community and be the face of the disease that is deadly and kills somebody … When God said this is how you’re going to lead today, I didn’t look back. I took it. And I’m happy I’ve been the face of this disease. The only problem is I would be happier if the numbers (affected by the disease) in the black and brown community would go down.

“I know I’ve been blessed because there have been millions and millions of people who have died since I announced 20 years ago. So, this is a bittersweet day. Yes, I’m living, but people are still, even today as we speak, getting this virus. So, we must change the mindset and we must do a better job of educating those who live in Urban America, both Latinos and African Americans. So, I dedicate my life to do that. I’ve been around the world talking about this disease and I will continue to do so.”

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