The Life of Earvin "Magic" Johnson

By Roland Lazenby
A basketball player in a purple and gold jersey, with the number 32, is captured in mid-action as he goes for a shot. the background is a striking yellow with dynamic purple text that reads "magic," referencing the player's nickname. below, the title "the life of earvin 'magic' johnson" is prominently displayed, along with the author's name, roland lazenby.
Author: Roland Lazenby
ISBN: 9781250248039
ON SALE: 10/24/2023

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The definitive biography of the basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, from the highly respected, career sportswriter and author of Michael Jordan: The Life.

Magic Johnson is one of the most beloved, and at times controversial, athletes in history. His iconic smile lifted the dowdy sport of American professional basketball from a second-tier sport with low ratings into the global spotlight—a transformation driven by Magic’s ability to eviscerate opponents with a playing style that featured his grand sense of fun. He was a master entertainer who directed the Los Angeles “Showtime” Lakers to the heights of both glory and epic excess, all of it driven by his mind-blowing no-look passes and personal charm.

Then, in 1991, at the height of his charismatic power, Johnson shocked the world with a startling cautionary tale about sexually transmitted disease that pushed public awareness of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Then out came his confession of unprotected sex with hundreds of women each year, followed by his retirement, an attempted return, and a proper farewell on the iconic 1992 Olympic Dream Team.

Longtime biographer Roland Lazenby spent years tracking the unlikely ascension of Johnson—an immensely popular public figure who was instantly scandalized but who then turned to his legendary will to rise again as a successful entrepreneur with another level of hard-won success. In Lazenby’s portrayal, Johnson’s tale becomes bigger than that of one man. It is a generational saga spanning parts of three centuries that reveals a great deal, not just about his unique basketball journey but about America itself.

Through hundreds of interviews with Johnson’s coaches, representatives past and present, teammates, opponents, friends, and loved ones, as well as key conversations with Johnson himself over the years, Lazenby has produced the first truly definitive study, both dark and light, of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr.—the revolutionary player, the icon, the man.

A man intently reading a newspaper at a sports event with spectators in the background.
Roland Lazenby is the author of definitive biographies of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Jerry West, among other books. He has spent the past three decades interviewing NBA players, coaches, staff members, and other figures while writing about the league. He lives in Salem, VA.

Praise for Roland Lazenby

“Roland Lazenby’s big biography of Magic Johnson gives us a wealth of detail, a huge cast of characters and, in a way, the tapestry of our time.”

The New York Times Book Review

"Roland Lazenby’s comprehensive tome regarding this profound legacy could only be titled Magic . . . With narrative clarity and observational depth of focus, Lazenby’s book carefully guides us on this epic journey through the life and times of one of the most significant cultural figures that America has ever known.”

Dr. Todd Boyd
A.k.a. Notorious Ph.D., Katherine and Frank Price Endowed Chair for the Study of Race and Popular Culture in the USC School of Cinematic Arts

Magic reigns as a wonderful and comprehensive biography of a world-class athlete and fascinating person. Lazenby, who has written biographies of Jerry West, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant, adds another to his list with this masterful examination of the man behind the winning smile and unbreakable confidence.”


"Magic, a biography of basketball star Earvin Johnson, deserves to be the first sports biography ever to win a Pulitzer prize.  Author Roland Lazenby has written a can’t-put-down masterpiece, combining incredible research, a remarkable story of greatness and tragedy, and a beautiful narrative to produce a timeless classic about one of the most fascinating athletes ever to fast break into America’s heart."

Peter Golenbock
Author of The Bronx Zoo and Bums

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