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“You’re the only one who can make the difference” — Magic Johnson shares how he overcame dyslexia

Dyslexia prepared Magic Johnson for overcoming greater challenges later in life.
Michigan State Spartans guard Earvin Johnson

Magic Johnson

Earvin “Magic” Johnson is one of the all-time greats in basketball. However, success didn’t happen overnight for him. Instead, Magic had to overcome various challenges at different stages of his life, including dyslexia.

“You’re the only one who can make the difference”

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that results in difficulty in reading, writing, speaking, and interpreting the meaning of words due to challenges in identifying speech sounds. 

Magic Johnson was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was young. He remembered getting laughed at and ridiculed because of his condition. Johnson could only read at the 6th-grade level. Fortunately, Magic wasn’t the one who quickly gave up. Upon taking the advice of his teacher, he enrolled in a summer school, which worked. Magic took it as a challenge; by 8th grade, he knew his future would be in basketball.

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Of course, the availability of resources differs from one person to another. But having the will to overcome physical and mental challenges starts with the willingness to work hard to surpass them. The no-quit-mentality was evident in Magic even at a young age, and he used that to overcome bigger challenges later in his life.

Other famous athletes diagnosed with dyslexia were Muhammad Ali, Michael Phelps, Carl Lewis, Rex Ryan, and Frank Gore, among others.

Overcoming HIV and stigma

In 1991, Magic revealed he had HIV, prompting an abrupt retirement from the NBA. At that time, science still offered no solution to the dreaded condition. But Earvin had to fight off more than that - the stigma of the public as the larger monster he had to fight off.

More than 30 years after his diagnosis, Magic remains healthy and alive. He also became one of the best to do it in basketball. Off the court, Johnson made several successful business ventures that enabled him to inspire others who might be undergoing what he went through.

These setbacks prepared Magic Johnson, and having dyslexia might be a blessing in disguise for him. It enabled him to work hard to improve and chase his dreams no matter what and become an inspiration to others. 

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