Happy Birthday to ‘Magic’ Johnson, who turns 60 years old today. One of the greatest basketball players of all time, he holds the NBA record for average assists (11.2) per game. Playing with the L.A. Lakers for 13 years, he helped them to win a championship in his rookie season (and took home the first of three MVP Awards in the NBA Finals). The magic he performed on the court—unexpectedly passing to other players—won his team 4 additional championships, until Johnson abruptly retired in 1991 after he contracted HIV.

His brave public announcement was widely praised, and it helped dispel the stereotype of HIV as a “gay disease” that needn’t worry any heterosexuals. But, in a tremendous footnote the next year, he played as a member of the 1992 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team—known as “The Dream Team”—which earned him a gold medal… Learn more and WATCH an incredible highlight reel… (1959)

2015 photo by Mihaylo CSUF, CC license

Since his retirement, Johnson has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex, as well as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, broadcaster, motivational speaker, and part-owner of the Lakers for several years. Johnson became part-owner of the L.A. Dodgers baseball team in 2012. He is the author of a 1992 autobiography, Earvin Magic Johnson: My Life, and has served as a United Nations Messenger of Peace. Johnson has also created the Magic Card, a pre-paid MasterCard that aimed to help low-income people save money and participate in electronic commerce.

Johnson takes a daily combination of drugs to prevent his HIV infection from progressing to AIDS. A Christian, he’s called his faith ‘the most important thing’ in his life. Johnson’s number 32 jersey was retired by the Lakers in 1992. (WATCH some Magic below…)

MORE Good News on this Day:

  • U.S. Social Security Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt creating unemployment insurance and pension plans for the elderly (1935)
  • President Harry S. Truman announced that Japan had surrendered unconditionally, ending World War II — a moment that led to the famous VJ Day kiss in Times Square, New York between a uniform-clad sailor and a nurse, captured on film by photographer Alfred Eisentaedt (1945)
  • Pakistan became independent of British rule (1947)
  • Bahrain declared its independence from United Kingdom (1971)
  • The Who released their fifth studio album Who’s Next, featuring hits like ’Won’t Get Fooled Again’, widely viewed as one of the greatest rock albums of all time (1971)
  • Twelve months after Mattel recalled millions of lead-tainted toys that were made in China, the US government banned lead from children’s toys (2008)

And, on this day in 1980, Lech Wałęsa led shipyard workers in Gdansk, Poland, in a successful strike to protest the dismissal of activist worker Anna Walentinowicz.

Lech Wałęsa

Part of a growing campaign to gain political freedom and improve economic conditions for Poland’s labor force, the 16,000 workers secured Miss Walentinowicz’s swift reinstatement and then elected her to the workers’ committee to negotiate with the Polish authorities and shipyard management.

And, Happy 53rd Birthday to actress and producer Halle Berry. Named after Halle’s Department Store in her birthplace of Cleveland, Ohio, the former model and beauty pageant contestant became one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood.

Halle Berry -CC Gage Skidmore
Photo by Gage Skidmore, CC license

Her performance in the 2001 independent film “Monster’s Ball” made her the first woman of color to receive the Academy Award for Best Actress. She also won an Emmy and Golden Globe for her role in the self-produced television film “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.” (1966)

Also, Happy 73rd Birthday to the musician, actor, comedian Steve Martin, who, according to Comedy Central, is the 6th best stand-up comic of all time. On top of five Grammys, an Emmy Award and Kennedy Center Honor, he received the International Bluegrass Music’s Distinguished Achievement award for his bluegrass albums and musicianship.

Photo credit: Highline Ballroom CC license

A banjo player since he was a teen, one of Steve’s latest works was a Broadway musical called Meteor Shower that opened on Broadway last November. Starring Amy Schumer, it is a play about two couples who witness a marital free-fall while watching a celestial event in their backyard. (1945

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