Performances by Josh Groban, Jennifer Hudson and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds highlighted Barbara Davis’ biennual Carousel of Hope ball on Saturday at the Beverly Hilton. But it was a pair of L.A. sports heroes who had the audience on its feet: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the man to whom he presented the Brass Ring award – Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
“On the basketball court Magic demonstrated the qualities that made him an outstanding team mate, a proven leader and a man who hated to lose. Off the court those qualities have taken him to a position of respect and admiration mastered by very few athletes, while spreading his own special type of magic,” Jabbar said. “It was that smile, you know that smile, it could light up a room. I’m talking about being exposed to that light.”
When Johnson got on the stage he talked about how he was enlightened. When he came to Los Angeles he mainly wanted to win championships. “And thank god Kareem and I were able to do that, five championships, nine times out of 12 years to the NBA Finals. But then somebody tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Earvin you got to be more than that. You got to be about giving back to the community. So while winning championships you gotta bless all the people.’ And that’s when I created the Magic Johnson Foundation. So we’ve been able to do great work around the world, educate people and take care of people with HIV and also give 150 scholarships to students in our foundation. We’ve sent over 10,000 people to college so far so we’ve been blessed. Give back to those who are less fortunate.”
When Barbara Davis talked of people helping people with diabetes, Johnson said he knows what she’s talking about.
“The proceeds of tonight go to making sure that people’s lives, they’re going to live a healthy life and a good life and a long life. I understand that probably better than anybody in this room because 23 years now I’ve been living with HIV.”
Jay Leno hosted the evening, which started with a silent auction with goodies filling half a dozen rooms that were sectioned into trips, food, health, fashion etc. Among those bidding were Clive Davis, David Foster,Quincy Jones, Rod Stewart, Diane Warren, Diane Keaton, Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna and Jon Lovitz.