Sometimes a person’s greatest impact doesn’t always come about along the expected path — or the easiest one.
One of the biggest names in basketball lore — Magic Johnson — and his wife, Cookie, know this first-hand. Sure, millions of people around the world know of Magic’s accomplishments on the court or his diagnosis with HIV 25 years ago. And they may know about Cookie’s commitment to stand by her husband in the years after.
But most don’t know about the rest of the story.
What most people don’t know about is the journey that Magic and Cookie have walked during those 25 years and the impact they have had along the way. It’s a story of faith and redemption. It is a walk that has led both of them to be entrepreneurs who have transformed communities through those ventures and because of their story.
On April 3, 2017, the Lipscomb community will have a unique opportunity to hear their story as the featured speakers at the Imagine 2017 event. The theme for Imagine 2017 is “Nashville: Prosperity for All Corners of the City” through which the Lipscomb community will begin to examine the ideas of faith, redemption, entrepreneurship and community transformation.
“We are thrilled that Magic and Cookie Johnson will join us to help us as a community examine these very important topics,” said John Lowry, vice president for development and external affairs. “Most know of Magic and Cookie from his career in the NBA, but there is a powerful narrative of their lives as community builders since then that isn’t as widely known, one that aligns closely with our institution as a place of faith, redemption, innovative solutions and service to others. Nashville will benefit from hearing this story, and Lipscomb is privileged to bring it to the city. We believe their story can be a catalyst for new thinking that will result in improved quality of life in every corner of Nashville as they have done in other cities.”
Lowry said the planning team searched nationally for a speaker whose story reflected the key areas to be examined in 2017.
“We found that the Johnsons are leaders in changing communities and who have lived a story of redemption,” he said.
Earlier this month, Cookie’s book, Believing in Magic: My Story of Love, Overcoming Adversity, and Keeping the Faith, was released by Christian publisher Howard Books. It is the story of her marriage to Magic and nearly four decades of “loving each other, losing their way and eventually finding a path they never imagined.” She is secretary of the board of directors of the Magic Johnson Foundation, which is committed to transform urban America through HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention programs, Community Empowerment Centers and the Taylor Michaels Scholarship Program. A businesswoman at heart, Johnson recently launched her premium denim line, Cj by Cookie Johnson, currently sold at Nordstrom, SAKS Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.
Cookie is the first spokeswoman for the I Stand with Magic campaign, joining her husband Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the Magic Johnson Foundation and Abbott in their continued fight to end HIV/AIDS. She is instrumental in the five-year effort to help reduce new HIV infections in the African American community by educating minority women about the disease and providing helpful tools for prevention and testing. She previously served as the spokesperson for the National Medical Association Immunization Public Service Announcement. She educated parents and caregivers from all communities on the importance of immunizing children in urban areas against the ten vaccine preventable diseases. Cookie was also instrumental in establishing the BREATHE Program, a national asthma awareness initiative that works to educate children and parents about the impact of asthma in urban environments.
Magic has used his business interests to transform communities. He is credited with sharing the vision to revitalize Nashville’s Gulch area and invested more than $20 million a decade ago into the Terrazo condo project to jump-start the transformation. He is chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, an investment conglomerate valued at an estimated $1 billion which provides high quality products and services that focus primarily on ethnically diverse and underserved urban communities through strategic alliances, investments, consulting and endorsements.
In 1998, he teamed with Starbucks to become the only franchisee in the history of the company, acquiring and eventually selling 125 stores in a lucrative move, which further solidified his position in the business world. The venture served as a catalyst for redevelopment in urban communities and is widely recognized as the corporate blueprint for engagement and success with urban consumers across America.
Together they have impacted countless lives through their faith journey and their involvement in community transformation.
Last year, Lipscomb launched the Imagine initiative to convene conversations of significance that bring leaders from around the world to Nashville to engage the community in topics of local and global importance and to share their stories and unique perspectives. On Feb. 29, President George W. Bush was the featured guest in for the inaugural Imagine convening.
Following that evening a series of discussions and working group conversations were launched that brought more than 100 of the community’s most distinguished and respected leaders together for seven sessions to examine critical issues and to develop solutions to impact communities in Nashville. The work culminated with a published report of recommendations produced by Imagine participants. The first actionable recommendations from this work will be released publicly at a briefing with Nashville Mayor Megan Barry on Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. in Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena Hall of Fame Room.
“We look forward to continuing these important conversations in 2017 as we examine issues of faith, redemption, entrepreneurship and community transformation,” said Lowry.
Imagine is an event specifically for Lipscomb Associates, donors of $1,000 or more annually. For more information click here or call 615.966.6232.