Like millions of other children around the world, the 11-year-old boy watched the television in horror as Magic Johnson announced he had HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Unlike most others his age, the boy vowed to do something about it. He would become a doctor and seek a cure.
His name was Pau Gasol.
Saving others was what his family did. His mother was a surgeon in Spain, his father a nurse administrator.
It didn't matter to the boy that Johnson, the married Lakers star, announced on Nov. 7, 1991, that he had a virus associated with unsafe sex and intravenous drug use.
"My perception didn't change when I heard the news," Gasol said of his childhood hero in an email recently from Barcelona. "It was just sad to hear that he was retiring from basketball and that his life was in serious risk."
Ultimately, Gasol would help rescue the Lakers on the court instead of in the lab as a power forward on back-to-back NBA championship teams in 2009 and 2010. But his life veered in a direction it might not otherwise have without Johnson's announcement of 20 years ago.
Magic Johnson inspired Lakers' Pau Gasol in more ways than one
Los Angeles Times | Nov 6