EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Student-athletes from El Paso ISD schools were shocked when NBA superstar Earvin “Magic” Johnson arrived for a surprise visit at Andress High School’s Performing Arts Center.

More than 310 boys and girls basketball players from all EPISD schools were on hand as part of an event organized by the district and Cigna. They were unaware the basketball legend would be part of the presentation.

Johnson stressed the importance of education in helping him overcome life’s challenges and how the same commitment athletes put into their sport can help them become better students.

“I know for myself, at your age, that’s all I cared about was playing basketball and making sure I got my grades,” Johnson said. “Why is that important? You want to get great grades because you want to go on, hopefully, to college. If that’s not a part of your plan, that’s OK, too, as long as you, then, get a trade.”  

He also took several questions from the student-athletes, often interjecting humor into his responses. When asked who was a better player — Michael Jordan or LeBron James? Johnson immediately responded with Jordan as the crowd erupted into applause.

Maryfer Carrera, a Franklin High School junior, said she drew inspiration from Johnson’s words and hopes he returns to spread his message to other players.   

“It definitely brought the whole basketball community together,” she said. “It’s something I will remember forever.”  

Cesar Gutierrez, a Jefferson High School sophomore, was one of 20 students who received a signed jersey and other apparel items from Johnson during the event. He said he is motivated to increase his effort in practice and in the classroom due to Johnson’s speech.   

“I’m glad to get this opportunity,” he said. “It tells me that I could accomplish more, and I could help the people here in El Paso if I accomplish something.”   

Johnson encouraged the students never to give up their dreams or allow others to define them.

For local and breaking news, sports, weather alerts, video and more, download the FREE KTSM 9 News App from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.