On this day, 20 years ago, at the peak of his career, basketball superstar Earvin 'Magic' Johnson went public that he was HIV positive. The Guide looks at some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment, who came out in the open to champion the cause of life-threatening diseases, and emerged triumphant
Earvin 'Magic' Johnson
Lance Armstrong (Testicular Cancer)
In October 1996, when Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer, he also had a tumor that had a metastasized to his brain and lungs. Extensive chemotherapy, brain and testicular surgery didn't deter him from fighting the killer disease as he went on to win the gruelling Tour de France each year from 1999 to 2005.
He inspired countless others through his story and his cancer support foundation, Livestrong. Through his charitable organisations and programmes, Armstrong has raised over $325 million for cancer survivors. His one-time fiance singer Sheryl Crow was also diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, weeks after their split. The 47 year-old artist underwent minimally invasive surgery to treat the disease. The platinum record selling Crow fought the disease and continues with her singing career.
Kylie Minogue (Breast Cancer)
In May 2005, the Aussie Pop sensation went public that she was suffering from breast cancer. In between chemotherapy sessions and visits to cancer-afflicted kids from across the world, she came to terms with a disease, which in her own words had changed her mentally and physically.
In 2010, she celebrated her five-year all-clear with a concert and has never looked back since then, cutting hit album after another.
Greg Louganis (HIV/ AIDS)
The Olympic champion diver announced that he was HIV positive in 1988, the same year in which he bagged gold at the Seoul Olympiad. At the event, he suffered a concussion after his head hit the springboard during the preliminary rounds, while performing a reverse 2 pike.
Two-time Los Angeles Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis of the US
dives during the qualifying sessions in September 1988 in Seoul
Despite the injury, he completed the preliminaries and repeated a similar dive in the finals, bagging gold. Through his biography Breaking the Surface (made into a film later), he spoke about his fight with AIDS. Today, he coaches aspirants of all ages and abilities.
Other extreme: Freddie Mercury
On November 23, 1991, Freddie Mercury's manager announced that the singer was HIV-positive and had AIDS. He died the next day. AIDS activists criticised him for hiding his condition for four years. His long-time partner Jim Hutton was diagnosed with HIV in 1990.
Mercury would have a doctor visit his home to ensure his condition was kept private. However, British tabloids had always speculated about his condition. Activists believed that had he been open, public awareness, which at the time was minimal, would have increased and helped the cause, globally.
Martina Navratilova (Breast Cancer)
In early 2010, tennis legend Martina Navratilova shocked her fans when she went public that she was diagnosed with an early form on breast cancer. After six weeks of intensive radiation therapy.
A statue of Magic Johnson outside Staples Center in Los Angeles,
Martina reported in late September that she was cancer-free and resumed training and touring the circuit. Today, she is a regular in the over-45 age category at tennis tournaments and champions the cause.
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