Earvin “Magic” Johnson has been honored with the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Award, the magazine announced on Thursday. The 55-year-old Johnson is only the second person and first athlete to earn the award in SI’s six decades long history.

The five-time NBA champion Johnson will be presented the award during a Sportsman of the Year Award ceremony scheduled for Tuesday in New York City. The ward “celebrates individuals whose dedication to the ideals of sportsmanship has spanned decades and whose lifetime of achievement in athletics has directly or indirectly changed the world.” The only previous award recipient is Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

“It is an honor to receive this award from Sports Illustrated,” Johnson said. “I grew up reading the magazine, which also gave me my first national exposure in its ‘Faces in the Crowd’ feature. Now, 37 years later, to be recognized by SI with a tribute that has only been given to Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a woman who has made the world a better place for millions with intellectual disabilities, is very special and humbling.”

The top overall pick in the 1979 NBA draft, Johnson played 12 seasons with the L.A. Lakers, winning all five of his titles with the franchise, before retiring in 1991 after contracting the HIV virus.  Johnson briefly returned to the Lakers in 1995 and retired as the Association’s all-time assists leader. He was elected to the NBA Hall of Fame in 2002.

Since then, Johnson has almost become as well-known for his business and philanthropic endeavors.

“When he retired from the NBA, Johnson’s ubiquitous smile was a beacon to basketball fans the world over. It now represents much more: A life dedicated to creating opportunity for others as well as himself,” Sports Illustrated said in a statement. “Few athletes have done more with the stardom they gained between the lines of competition, which is why SI is proud to honor him with its 2014 Sportsman of the Year Legacy Award.”

Johnson’s entrepreneurial portfolio includes such ventures as movie theaters and coffee-shop chains, raising his overall income to well over $500 million (source: Celebrity Networth). Johnson also previously bought owned shares in the Lakers and was recently involved in the $2 billion purchase of the Dodgers.

Over the years, Johnson has also donated roughly $15 million to HIV/AIDS education research.

[Photo Credit: IslesPunkFan]

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