Former basketball star Earvin (Magic) Johnson on Friday accepted President Bush’s request that he join the National Commission on AIDS, saying he wants to focus attention “on what all of us must do to fight this disease.”
Johnson, who shocked the nation last week by disclosing he was infected with the AIDS virus and retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers, wrote to Bush on Friday accepting the post.
“I hope that my participation will help to increase the attention of the American people to the AIDS crisis, and focus their awareness on what all of us must do to fight this disease,” Johnson said in the letter released by the White House.
“I appreciate your understanding that it is important for me to remain an independent voice on this issue as I work to educate the heterosexual community, African-Americans and young people to the AIDS crisis,” Johnson said.
“I hope that the commission and your Administration will be able to work hand in hand in the fight against AIDS, and I want you to know that I will do everything that I can to make a difference.”
Bush’s press secretary, Marlin Fitzwater, said the 32-year-old athlete would be “a wonderful addition” to the 15-member commission.
In his retirement announcement, Johnson said that he was infected with the human immunodeficiency virus but had no symptoms of AIDS yet.
The commission was created two years ago and has issued reports decrying discrimination against AIDS victims and accusing Bush and other leaders of not doing enough.
The only member of the panel infected with AIDS, Belinda Mason, died in September.