Decades after he started to become known just as much as an advocate for AIDS and HIV awareness as he was for being a basketball player, Magic Johnson challenged today’s athletes to use their platform to take up a cause.
And he commended LeBron James for doing just that.
“They have to get involved socially”, Johnson said Friday at The Giant of Africa, a benefit organized by Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri to honor the late former South African president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela on the first anniversary of his death.
“They have to because it affects them, too. And it affects their families. They grew up in these situations; they must not forget that. They were once poor, they went to inner-city schools that didn’t have technology or computers, they didn’t have good books. See, I went through that whole situation. They went through that as well. A lot of their cousins are still going through that, so they must not forget that. I hope that they would do more.
“But you see LeBron. LeBron is a great example of doing a wonderful job. When this first came out, when you think about everything that he stood up for — the Donald Sterling thing, when that mess happened, just now with these young people being shot down unarmed, he’s been right out front, so I’ve got to give him a lot of credit. If he’s out front being the best player, then the other guys usually follow the best guy”.
On several occasions over the past two weeks, James has not shied away from questions about the social unrest stemming from the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in New York and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, which all came at the hands of police officers.