In the 1980s Magic Johnson redefined the game of basketball in glitzy Los Angeles. And since he has become an international businessman and even a host of a late-night television show. But as big as his life has been, Johnson remains connected to his hometown in Michigan. He showed it by announcing a $1 million gift to Lansing Promise at a Thursday night fundraising dinner hosted by the Lansing Regional Chamber Economic Club.
“Lansing was the greatest place in the world to grow up,” Johnson said. “Everything I am came from Lansing, Michigan. Everything I will be came from Lansing, Michigan.”
Just three years after graduating from Lansing’s Everett High in 1977, Johnson led the Los Angeles Lakers to an NBA title, ushering in “Showtime.” The rivalry between his Lakers and Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics took the sport to new heights, giving it a global reach and paving the way for a generation of superstars.
Johnson detailed the gift during the dinner, which raised $200,000. The rest came from Johnson and his friends, including a $300,000 donation from Johnson, $250,000 from Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and another $25,000 from his former Laker coach Pat Riley.
“I was speechless,” Lansing School Board President Peter Spadafore told Ken Palmer of the Detroit Free Press. “I was thinking it would be more like $200,000. This community is willing to invest in the Lansing School District. It makes me very proud.”
And Magic wants to make the fundraiser an annual effort. “I want to change it to a dinner dance next year,” he said. “We can bring in a big act. We can have it on a Friday or Saturday night.”