NBA Hall-of-Famer and businessman Earvin "Magic" Johnson visits Maplewood High School

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Earvin “Magic” Johnson visited Maplewood High School, bringing a message of hope and overcoming adversity.

"A teacher and counselor saved my life," Johnson said. "I was in the ninth grade reading at the seventh grade level. My teacher and counselor pulled me to the side." Johnson said he had to take summer school courses and receive tutoring to catch up."We're all going to have challenges. Meet your challenges head on," Johnson said. "Believe in yourself."

Johnson is a five-time NBA champion and 12-time NBA all-star who now focuses on business ventures and social activism. His company, Magic Johnson Enterprises, is a $1.1 billion business conglomerate involved in a wide variety of ventures, several of which focus on empowering inner-city youth while advancing underserved communities. His visit to Maplewood was sponsored by CIGNA Healthcare and Cushion Employer Services.

"I am fascinated by his generosity. Magic is a very humble man and I loved his message. He had a great message for inner city urban youth. For young people who are living their lives in adverse circumstances, he had a great message for them," said Dr. Ron Woodard, executive principal of Maplewood High School. "He said, 'You may be poor, but you don't have to have poor dreams. Don't settle for low expectations.' It was so powerful."

Johnson’s message to Maplewood students could not be timelier as the MHS boys’ basketball team was the 2016 Class AA Regional champions, and junior Bo Hodges was named Tennessee’s Mr. Basketball - the first MNPS student-athlete to receive the award in more than a decade. Johnson’s overcoming adversity message also comes on the heels of Maplewood’s inaugural chess team defying odds by competing in the state chess tournament before qualifying for nationals in Atlanta.

Johnson engaged with students before, during and after his speech.

Maplewood senior Christopher Clark, 18, who has a full academic scholarship to Belmont, said he wants to be a general manager of a professional sports team one day. After Clark asked for advice on becoming a successful businessman, Johnson publicly promised Clark an internship with Magic Johnson Enterprises and agreed to be his mentor.

"I have so many dreams. For him to give me this opportunity is fantastic," Clark said.

Here are some highlights of Johnson's visit: