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Basketball Great Shares Magic Through a Decade of Survival

It has been nearly 10 years since basketball great Magic Johnson announced to the world that he'd tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS. Now, a decade later, he still appears to be the picture of health. He talks to the Early Show about his fitness regime and how it plays into his latest business plan.

When Earvin 'Magic' Johnson retired from the game he loved, many believed it was the beginning of the end. But instead of withering away, Magic not only survived, he thrived, both physically and as an entrepreneur. He is transforming business in the inner city.

One new business is "Magic Clubs"--a 24-hour fitness gym near Oakland. This is the latest Magic Johnson investment in urban neighborhoods.

Magic says, "It makes their property value go up. It brings a smile to their faces. It's a place that they can meet their friends that they didn't have before."

Someone said that Magic Johnson is reinventing inner-city business.

I'm the one?

What does it feel like every time you have a ribbon cutting, when you open up another one of your new businesses?

Here is a little black kid from Lansing, Michigan, that never in his wildest dreams thought he would have a 24-hour fitness "Magic Club." Never.

Earvin Johnson, Jr.. grew up dreaming about a basketball career. After joining the Lakers in 1979, his showtime style of play bedazzled sports fans. Over the years, he earned three MVP awards and five NBA championship rings. His abilities seemed limited only by the imagination.

But then on November 7, 1991, his career came to an abrupt end. Magic announced at the time, "Because of the HIV virus that I have attained, I will have to retire from the Lakers."

Ten years ago, most thought that HIV was a death sentence, but Johnson remained upbeat.

You didn't have any private feelings that you were going to die soon?

I thought when I got HIV--I will survive this, and I have and I will. I am a winner. I am a guy that goes out and makes things happen in bad situations.

He plowed his energy, enthusiasm, and megawatt smile into business ventures in long-neglected minority neighborhoods. When his first Magic Johnson Theater opened in 1995, he was overcome with emotion.

As he did with basketball, Magic continues to make a career out of turning the impossible into reality.

There's always got to be a mountain for me to climb. I need challenges in my life to make me keep going, to make me wake up in the morning.

Basketball is a part of the elixir that keeps him alive. Intensive workouts, a positive attitude, and the latest drug treatments have kept him free of full-blown AIDS.. He believes that it all comes down to the magic of the court.

When you get out on that court, I mean, you're like at home. I'm shaking already, I'm like, give me that ball right now. That's heaven for me.

It seems on and off the court, the "Magic Man" will reach into his bag of tricks and pull ou a new idea.

My staff tells me that every time I go on vacation, they hate it because I have 29 things for them to do.

Oh, you think of things while you're on vacation? You're supposed to be resting.

They're like, "Oh, no. He's going on vacation. We have to work now."

Magic Johnson hopes to open between six and eight clubs over the next 2 years. But just this week, his company announced it's buying the Fatburger hamburger chain to add to his movie theaters, shopping centers, and Starbucks. He attends every ribbon-cutting ceremony.

People love him and he turns on the charm and loves them right back. Many just want to express their appreciation. He said that a woman came to say thanks when he opened a restaurant. She hadn't been able to buy a salad in her neighborhood in over 40 years. When he opened a theater, another woman told him that prior to this, she had to drive over 45 miles to see a movie.

Magic feels very blessed to be able to make money and sere so many communities.
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