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Lakers’ trainer details events leading up to Magic Johnson’s HIV announcement

Jul 18, 2011, 6:34 PM EDT

magic-hiv-presser Getty Images

November 7, 1991 was as dark a day as we’ve seen on the American sports landscape. That was the date that Magic Johnson held a press conference to announce to the world that he had contracted the HIV virus, and as a result, would be forced to retire from the Lakers.

The basketball part was secondary, of course. The initial, overwhelming emotions of shock and sadness that many felt were not for the loss of Magic the basketball player, but for the sobering thought (which was prevalent at the time) that Johnson had essentially just been given what many believed to be a “death sentence.”

Lakers.com reporter Mike Trudell sat down with longtime team trainer Gary Vitti to recount the events leading up to that historic press conference, and as you might imagine, it was an insanely emotional time for all involved.

But while Vitti and everyone else was instantly devastated by the news, Magic had this to say when discussing it with Vitti for the first time.

“I can tell you exactly what he said to me,” Vitti said. “I asked if he was OK, because, I said, ‘I’m a wreck.’ He said to me: ‘God gave me this disease, and he gave it to the right guy. I’m going to beat this, and do something really good with it.’ And he has. That was his attitude. It gave me strength, which is what I was supposed to give him, but I didn’t. He did.”

It’s a powerful read, especially the part about Magic talking to his teammates right before the press conference inside the Forum locker room. The courage that Magic showed that day should have been a clue to us all that he would in fact beat it, just as he promised.

  1. edmazeing1 - Jul 18, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    Your one of the best to ever do it magic, but I hope u know now that god did not give you (HIV) one of them groupie hoes did!!!

  2. rickditka - Jul 18, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    and then his long time friend Isaiah Thomas let everyone know that magic was bisexual

  3. trbowman - Jul 18, 2011 at 9:44 PM

    What events?

    He banged the wrong girl. That’s it.

    • david8726 - Jul 18, 2011 at 10:27 PM

      Is that supposed to be funny or something?

  4. 1historian - Jul 18, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    A few days after the announcement the Lakers played in Chicago and Magic was there. They crowd gave him a big round of applause and then the Lakers went out and whipped Da Bulls.

  5. frankvzappa - Jul 19, 2011 at 8:47 AM

    Good thing he was rich enough to buy the cure from the government that created the disease in a laboratory to begin with.

    Didn’t his wife go on national TV and say that he beat it through prayer? Only in this country of retarded brainwashed idiots would anybody be stupid enough to come up with, broadcast, or believe such foolishness.

    Pardon the interruption, we now bring you back to your regularly scheduled program. Please continue to believe everything your government tells you, because they will keep you safe.

    • themanchine - Jul 19, 2011 at 10:41 AM

      This can’t be Thumbed Up enough.

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