US basketball champion and fundraiser for charity.
Born in Lansing, Michigan, Johnson acquired his nickname from a local sports journalist when he was just fifteen. His commanding physique and height (6ft 9in), enthusiasm, dedicated practice, and unselfish teamwork soon marked him out for an exceptional career as a professional basketball player. In 1979 Johnson led Michigan State University to victory in the National Collegiate Athletic Association championships. In twelve years playing as guard for the LA Lakers (1980–91) Johnson won five championship awards and was voted the league's Most Valuable Player in 1987, 1990, and 1991. In 1992 he was a member of the team that won the basketball gold medal for the USA at the Barcelona Olympics.
After testing positive for the HIV virus, Johnson announced his retirement to a stunned America in 1992. Having been a fundraiser for educational charities, Johnson subsequently devoted his time to raising money for AIDS research. In 1993–94 he worked as a sports commentator for NBC and in 1994 he was appointed head coach with his old club. He has written two volumes of autobiography.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — United States History.