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Magic Johnson recently joined Uncle Bud's Hemp & CBD as a brand ambassador

By Jason Duaine Hahn
February 02, 2021 02:36 PM
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NCAA Michigan St Duke Basketball, Washington, USA - 31 Mar 2019
Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock
| Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock

Magic Johnson knows he's far from his days of lobbing passes to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy as a young star on the Los Angeles Lakers.

With his 62nd birthday approaching in August, Johnson — who led the Lakers to five NBA championships during the 1980s — says keeping active has remained a priority for him. Even today, Johnson works out at least five times a week.

"Your body's going to break down, especially because of playing that many years in the NBA," Johnson, a 12-time All-Star, tells PEOPLE. "My joints are going to hurt, especially when it gets colder, like the wintertime now."

Last year, Johnson became a brand ambassador for Uncle Bud's Hemp & CBD, which produces a variety of wellness goods, including lotions and vitamins, based on hemp and CBD.

Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis plants. CBD products have grown in popularity in recent years for their perceived medicinal benefits, like treating anxiety and chronic pain, among other issues.

magic Johnson
Credit: Uncle Bud's Hemp & CBD

Johnson — who has had a successful second career as a businessman following his playing days — says he was sold on joining the company after using one of its products for pain relief.

"When we came together, it was just a natural, with me dealing with my own health situation, HIV, for over almost 30 years now," Johnson says, noting his HIV diagnosis in 1991 that led to his first retirement from the NBA.

"I think naturally we just hit it off, and then both our desires to help other people with their own health issues and stay healthy, especially during this pandemic, is really important," he continues. "And I think you're seeing people around the world that are just — especially during this pandemic — trying to get a healthy lifestyle and trying to get healthy any way they can."

While Johnson hasn't played in the NBA since officially retiring in 1996, he was able to watch his former team win the championship in October. The Lakers' title came nearly nine months after Johnson's friend and former Lakers player, Kobe Bryant, died in a helicopter accident.

"With the Lakers, when Kobe died, they dedicated the season to making sure that they won the championship in his name," Johnson says. "They all came through as a team and won the championship, led by LeBron James. He had told me, as well as he told the fan base when he signed, that he was going to take us back to the championship, and he did what he had promised he was going to do."

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"So it was tremendous for the city, for Laker fans — which we have the most fans around the world — and then it was good for basketball, too. But at the end of the day, to know that they made a commitment to Kobe and they came through with it and followed through with it is amazing."

The Lakers win was then followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers securing their first World Series since 1988.

"All 25 players, said, 'Hey, we're going to come together. The Lakers did their thing. Now it's time,' " Johnson — a part-owner of the franchise — says. "Dodger players were saying, 'Now it's our turn.' They went and won the World Series."

"Clayton Kershaw pitched unbelievable in the World Series and in the playoffs," he added. "I was so happy for Clayton when he finally got a World Series ring. The city is on fire, and we're a city of champions."