LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles Lakers partnered with Crenshaw High School Wednesday to dedicate a new STEMM and robotics lab.
The big surprise was an appearance by Lakers great Magic Johnson.
Perhaps a bigger surprise was seeing Johnson get emotional when CBS2 Sports Director Jim Hill asked him about giving back to the community, and to kids in particular.
As Hill reported, sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
Hill said, “We all know Magic to be a man who can be gregarious, out-going. He always has something to say.”
When Hill asked Magic — the Lakers’ president of basketball operations — about this special science lab today, sometimes he was at a loss for words.
“It’s so important, Jim,” Magic said choking back tears, “they are so happy. This is a blessing from God, man. Bigger than the Lakers season. Bigger than Lakers players. This is life here. This is what we should be about.”
The students clearly agreed.
Jabari Harris is a STEMM lab student who also works on web design.
“Yes, I will never forget this day,” Harris says, “it was an amazing opportunity. Not only to meet someone of his high stature, but just to have him come in and bless us with …with his everything.”
He added, “Thank you, Magic. Thank you everyone in the Lakers organization. And overall, I’m blessed. And also so is everyone here at Crenshaw. We’re very thankful.”
Magic expressed his own thanks. The kids were smart, rock stars really. Magic told Hill that we sometimes don’t do right by kids in the inner city. The schools get overlooked, they often get old equipment and books.
“I was once one of them,” he says. “That’s why I’m emotional. I know how important this is.”
And he got emotional again thinking about the hard work of the students in the lab and how it would change their lives.
“And they displayed that today. This has been an awesome moment for me. Life-changing. This is what it’s about. This is what I live for.”
The usually stoic Jim Hill also admitted to shedding a few tears in the encounter.
“We were all crying,” he said. “I said Earvin, don’t do that. And then we were all boo-hoo, boo-hoo. It just goes to show you, the way he has touched this community from day one from Michigan State.”
Jim and CBS2 anchor Pat Harvey then touched on Magic’s faith.
“One of the first things he will say, when he goes to make a speech,” says Hill, “he will step to the microphone and the first thing he will say is ‘God is good.'”
The Full Interview