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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s not everyday that magic comes to the Port City. After months of anticipation, thousands came out to UNCW’s Trask Coliseum Thursday night to hear a basketball legend speak.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the basketball hall of famer and successful businessman kicked off the Wilma Daniels Distinguished Lecture Series, focusing on diversity and tolerance. The free tickets for Thursday’s event were gone within a few hours of becoming available last month.

Johnson spoke of both his achievements and hardships.

“I dealt with HIV and they said no way is he going to be here this long and I’m still here,” Johnson says.

Johnson’s struggle with HIV, which he contracted in 1991, was something that resonated with many UNCW students in the audience.

“I think that’s really inspiring, just how he dealt with all of that, so just the whole life story really,” says Davis Wiley, a senior at UNCW.

More than 600 middle school students from New Hanover County Schools came out to hear Johnson, who stressed one thing to them as the answer to their success.

“Education, education, education,” Johnson says. “That’s going to be the key.”

“It’s certain things that will stick you down, but you still have to strive to achieve your goals in life,” says Clinique Brown, a New Hanover County middle school student.

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