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As Apple TV prepares to release 'They Call me Magic', Magic Johnson reflects on his Lansing roots

April 20, 2022
<p>Photo Courtesy of Apple TV Press</p>

Photo Courtesy of Apple TV Press

From a local Lansing, Michigan kid to, NBA star and finally a massive entertainment figure, former Michigan State guard Earvin “Magic” Johnson has cemented himself as a legend not only here in the Mitten State, but across the globe.

You all know his story, but now you can receive unprecedented access to it in the new Apple TV+ show, “They Call Me Magic”, that begins airing on April 22. The docuseries will dive into Johnson’s life starting at his humble beginnings in Lansing and moving all the way to the NBA. The story is told through interviews with his family, friends, coaches, teammates and Johnson himself. The docuseries will also cover his battle in changing the narrative with HIV and his current work in community activism.

In addition to his ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Johnson has continued to give back to underprivileged communities by providing scholarships to send kids to college, creating AIDS and HIV clinics and by helping provide broadband to students in need that struggled in the virtual world that COVID-19 created.

The Lansing area has been a big beneficiary of his outreach with scholarships and much more — all of which stemming from his love of the place he grew up.

"I love being a Spartan and I love the state of Michigan,” Johnson said. “(I've) been trying to create jobs for people who live there, create businesses there. That's never gonna leave me as long as my parents, brothers and sisters are still there and Michigan State — I'm going to always care about Lansing, but care about the state of Michigan and people who live in Michigan as well.”

While the Lansing area has benefitted from Johnson’s success and outreach, the former scrappy guard from Lansing Everett High School praises his hometown as well.

“Lansing was everything,” Johnson said. “I wouldn't be who I am, I wouldn’t have achieved everything in life. I got my values living in Lansing, my education being in Lansing, how to help other people being in Lansing. It really saved my whole life.”

“They took care of me, it really takes a village to raise somebody and that's exactly right for me. That village in Lansing, Michigan helped raise me, shake me, cheer for me and still cheering for me today. I loved growing up there and I wouldn't change anything that happened with me being raised in Lansing.”

With his friends and family still in the area, Johnson is constantly checking back in with those close to him, including those that contributed to the illustrious 1979 National Championship won by Michigan State in the legendary clash between Larry Bird and Johnson.

“I just talked to Greg Kelser yesterday, my former teammate at Michigan State, we won a national championship together,” Johnson said. “Another friend of mine, Dale Beard, who is now coaching at Lansing Sexton and was my running mate at guard when I played at Everett High School, I just talked to him two days ago. I always keep in touch with everybody from Lansing.”

One person featured in “They Call Me Magic” is Johnson’s mother, Christine Johnson. Magic Johnson credits his mother, who still lives in Lansing, for pushing him to give back to this community each time he makes his way home.

“One thing I love is that my mother has a gentle touch about herself,” Johnson said. “When I go home to Lansing, just to get that hug and to get her famous sweet potato pie and apple pie and to sit back and just talk to her, that really makes me feel good. She's going to come to L.A in a couple of weeks and stay with us for a month and I can't wait to see her. But she has influenced my life to give back. That's the reason I give back so much is because of my mother and I love her for that.”

Magic Johnson’s story airs on April 22, running at the same time as HBO MAX's "Winning time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty" that shows a dramatized version of the Showtime Lakers depicted by actors.

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