Magic Johnson has a ball at Habitat LA’s Builders Ball

Magic Johnson honored at the Builders Ball for LA’s Habitat for Humanity

Magic Johnson at Builders Ball (photo by Diane Thompson)

Magic Johnson at Builders Ball (photo by Diane Thompson)

NBA legend Magic Johnson admitted he’s more comfortable with a basketball in his hand than building tools, but that didn’t stop him from accepting the “Dream Builder” honor from the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles at the organization’s annual gala.

“I haven’t held a hammer in a long time, but I know how to write a check,” Magic Johnson said flashing his famous big smile at a special reception for LA’s Habitat for Humanity. The philanthropic sports superstar and business man was on hand for a special meet and greet with Habitat’s supporters just before the start of the Builders Ball fundraiser held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Johnson was having a ball as the “Dream Builder” honoree at the gala. And he had fun becoming the event’s entertaining and most accommodating auctioneer when he auctioned off LA Lakers tickets. Magic promised, “Your seats will be behind the bench at the Lakers game, and then I’ll take you and your friends out to dinner.” The crowd went wild, especially two guys who were excitedly trying to outbid each other. When the bid reached its peak at $50,000, Magic agreed to do a special dinner and a Lakers game for both guys. And then Magic added more magic to the moment when he matched and doubled the donation himself. Magic’s equally philanthropic wife Cookie Johnson cheered her husband’s generosity.

“What Habitat for Humanity is doing is God’s work, putting people into homes, giving hope, building communities, and I’m happy to support their efforts,” Johnson told the crowd.

Erin Rank, President and CEO of Habitat LA, said she was thrilled to have Magic and the other honorees “help make dreams come true, not with a handout, it’s a hand up. As we celebrate our 25th anniversary for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles we are grateful for our volunteers and donors.” In addition to Johnson’s honor, Bank of America received the Foundation Builder award, and Bernards, building and management services, was recognized with the Builder of the Year award.

“On the Wings of Love” sensational singer Jeffrey Osborne thrilled the crowd with a concert at the end of the evening. Other celebrities attending were Tommy Davidson, Tina Knowles Lawson and Richard Lawson, Shaun Robinson, Taylor Armstrong (RHOBH), Kate Linder (Y&R), Glynn Turman (House of Lies), Kiki Shepard (Showtime at the Apollo), Art Evans (Soldiers Story), Byron Scott (LA Lakers Head coach), Gary Vitti (LA Lakers trainer), A.C. Green (retired NBA), Dawnn Lewis (Better Call Saul), Tracy Hutson (Extreme Makeover), Alex McLoed (Trading Spaces), Khleo Thomas (Walking Tall), Christina Wren (Man of Steel), and rising star Caroline Barry who is getting a lot of buzz about playing Nellie Bly in the upcoming film 10 Days In A Madhouse – The Nellie Bly Story, hitting the big screen Nov. 20.

With help from Magic, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles raised more than $750,000 at the Builders Ball. Habitat LA strives to eliminate substandard housing through advocacy, education and partnership with families and individuals in need to build decent, sustainable and affordable housing. Since 1990, Habitat LA has built, rehabilitated and repaired more than 1,000 homes locally and worldwide, transforming the lives of thousands of individuals. To learn more and volunteer go to www.habitatla.org. #


Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to be half of the husband and wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who have written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 30 years.

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  • Congratulations Magic Johnson for your inspirational work! What a fabulous event. We loved you as auctioneer. Habitat for Humanity is doing God’s work, just like Nellie Bly did in “10 Days In A Madhouse” so we were very honored to be a part of this event. Btw, 10 DAYS IN A MADHOUSE opens November 11th in New York City, then expands nationwide on November 20th. Like Magic Johnson, we hope to inspire the nation with the fearless humanity Nellie Bly embodies in the film. Thanks for a great night! – the 10 Days Team.