L.A. Times: Earvin “Magic” Johnson announced his arrival as a businessman 13 years ago, when he took part in an unusual meeting with gang leaders from the Bloods and the Crips.
At the time, Johnson was building a movie theater in Baldwin Hills. Would the gang members, Johnson asked, be kind enough not to shoot it up?
“I just laid it out to them that I’m building this theater for the community,” Johnson, the former Lakers basketball standout, recalled from his seventh-floor office in Beverly Hills. “You can’t have anything happen at this theater because we’re going to hire your cousins, your mothers, your sons and daughters. You come in here and shoot up the place, it might be your own relatives inside.”
The theater stands peacefully to this day, largely untouched by violence. And these days, Johnson meets with corporate CEOs, institutional investors and elected officials nationwide who want a piece of his growing collection of businesses and properties in 21 states.
The orchestrator of the Lakers’ highflying “Showtime” teams in the 1980s, which netted five NBA championships, has crafted a second career by investing his time and, in many cases, other people’s money in long-ignored urban neighborhoods through his Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund.