LANSING — Earvin Johnson Sr., the father of NBA Hall of Fame basketball player Earvin “Magic” Johnson, died on Wednesday, according to his family.
An obituary posted on Paradise Funeral Chapel’s website announced the elder Johnson’s death. He died at McLaren Greater Lansing and was 88 years old. Funeral arrangements have not been set, the funeral home said.
Magic Johnson posted on Instagram Thursday and expressed his heartbreak over his father’s death. He said the elder Johnson was his biggest supporter, best friend, hero and idol.
“I wanted to be just like my dad,” the Michigan State University and NBA legend said. “My father was the hardest working man I’ve ever known. He worked two to three jobs at any given time to provide for his family and never made excuses.”
Magic Johnson later Thursday posted a video on his Instagram from an event at which he thanked his parents for the work they put him through to be a better basketball player.
“Mr. and Mrs. Earvin Johnson, without you sitting there every day, every Sunday had me right there beside you pointing out different things about basketball, getting me on that truck every day, every morning making me go to work with you,” Magic Johnson said in a video. “I wouldn’t really learn what hard work is about without you, and you know that I owe you so much and I love you so much, dad.”
In his book, Magic wrote that his father was from Wesson, Mississippi, and that his parents were sharecroppers. Johnson and Christine came to Michigan because there were jobs at General Motors.
Johnson worked night shift at General Motors’ now-defunct Fisher Body plant in Lansing and raised his family in a three-bedroom home in what is now known as the West Side neighborhood. Christine Johnson was a school custodian. Johnson mainly worked on the Oldsmobile assembly line and came home with burn marks on his clothes from the job, Magic wrote.
Johnson also worked part-time at a nearby Shell gas station pumping gas and fixing cars, and had another job operating his own trash-collecting business, which Magic worked on with him.
Magic wrote in his book that his dad was deeply involved with Union Missionary Baptist Church and sang in the church’s choir.
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The family is accepting donations to the Magic Johnson Foundation in lieu of flowers. They’re asking people to include the Earvin Johnson Sr. Scholarship on checks. Donations can be mailed to the foundation at 9100 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700 East Tower in Beverly Hills, California.
The scholarship will provide funds for incoming minority students at Michigan State University.
“My father would be so proud to know that we are celebrating his life through philanthropy by giving underserved students a chance to live out their respective dreams at the university he truly loved, MSU.” Johnson wrote.
Johnson is survived by his wife, Christine. Together they had seven children, according to Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr.’s autobiography “My Life”: Quincy, Larry, Pearl, Kim, Evelyn, Yvonne and Magic. The Johnsons also had three children from previous marriages, Michael, Lois and Mary.
Contact reporter Krystal Nurse at 517-267-1344 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @KrystalRNurse.
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