‘Magic’ Johnson leads tributes to ‘incredible young woman and hero’ who was born with HIV and spent her life campaigning and educating millions to break the stigma

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By Jamie Shapiro and Ishita Srivastava For Dailymail.Com

10:49 22 Feb 2024, updated 14:53 22 Feb 2024

  • Magic Johnson interviewed Hydeia Broadbent four years before Oprah in 1992 



Magic Johnson is leading the tributes to HIV advocate Hydeia Broadbent, who was born with the virus and died aged 39 on Monday.

Broadbent moved the nation at the age of 11 when she shared her heartbreaking story of being diagnosed with HIV with Oprah in 1996 moving the host to tears.

Johnson, who has also had HIV, first announcing it in 1991, interviewed the future activist four years before Oprah on his show, ‘A Conversation with Magic Johnson’

She was only seven at the time but even at that young age she was already beginning on her journey to spread awareness and inspire millions.

Broadbent spent her life addressing the stigma surrounding the virus.

Johnson took to social media in a very moving tribute about his old friend and offered his condolences and shared his thoughts.

He had known her for over 30 years. 

Magic Johnson comforted the young Hydeia Broadbent when she cried talking about her virus on the show back in 1992 – at just seven years old, she had already become an advocate for HIV
Johnson and  Broadbent at a music event in 2006, 14 years after they first met on his show

He wrote: ‘I’m devastated to hear about the passing of an incredible young woman, activist and hero Hydeia Broadbent.

Full statement from Magic Johnson

‘I’m devastated to hear about the passing of an incredible young woman, activist and hero Hydeia Broadbent.

‘In 1992, I did a Nickelodeon special called “A Conversation with Magic”, and 7-year-old Hydeia and I made an incredible impact. Hydeia changed the world with her bravery, speaking about how living with HIV affected her life since birth.

‘She dedicated her life to activism and became a change agent in the HIV/AIDS fight.’

By speaking out at such a young age, she helped so many people, young and old, because she wasn’t afraid to share her story and allowed everyone to see that those living with HIV and AIDS were everyday people and should be treated with respect.

‘Thanks to Hydeia, millions were educated, stigmas were broken, and attitudes about HIV/AIDs were changed. We will miss her powerful voice in this world.

‘Cookie and I are praying for the Broadbent family and everyone that knew and loved Hydeia.’

Broadbent’s HIV was first discovered when she was three-years old. It developed into AIDS when she was five, a few years before meeting the basketball player and activist on his show.

Actress and Broadbent’s childhood friend, Jurnee Smollett has also paid tribute, saying that she was a trailblazer. 

Smollett said: ‘I thank God for her light, her will.’

‘I will miss her laughter, her dancing, her joyous smile that lit up her beautiful big cheeks, her awful taste in tv shows, her hilarious way of making fun of how I’m really a boring nerd inside, our drives listening to music really loud, the tears we shed over heartbreaks, the way she wore her heart on her sleeve and was unable to get through a motivational talk without tearing up at some point.

‘Courage was her middle name. A literal goddess with an otherworldly strength. A warrior’s heart who fought till the end. Rest well beautiful one.’

Broadbent’s birth mother was a drug addict and abandoned her at a Las Vegas hospital after she was born. When she was ten months old, she was adopted by Patricia and Loren Broadbent.

Loren Broadbent announced his daughter’s death on Facebook and said she had ‘remained determined to spread hope.’

According to Kimberley R. McCoy, a family member, Broadbent was on dialysis and on life support last year. 

‘With great sadness, I must inform you all that our beloved friend, mentor and daughter Hydeia, passed away today after living with (HIV) since birth.

After hearing about the girl’s ordeal, Winfrey had begun to well up during the interview
Since then, Broadbent had become a HIV/AIDS advocate and spent her life addressing the stigma surrounding the virus, especially during the AIDS crisis in the US in the 1990s when such diagnosis meant certain death
Hydeia Broadbent shot to global fame at the age of 11 when she shared her heartbreaking story of being diagnosed with HIV with Winfrey on her namesake show in 1996
But on February 20, Loren Broadbent announced his daughter’s death on Facebook and said she had ‘remained determined to spread hope.’

‘Despite facing numerous challenges throughout her life, Hydeia remained determined to spread hope and positivity through education around HIV/AIDS,’ the sorrowful father wrote on the social media page. 

Shortly after being abandoned by her biological mother, who was addicted to drugs, in Nevada as an infant, Broadbent was adopted by Loren and Patricia Broadbent. 

Until the age of six, the young child was tagging along with her mother, a social worker, as she raised HIV awareness – and soon after began to talk to people about the condition herself.

During her appearance on Oprah, Broadbent revealed that living with the disease was the hardest part of life for her and explained the problems it had caused her

On the Oprah show in 1996, Broadbent went into detail about the effect the virus has on her life – and it brought the host to tears. 

She said: ‘I had fungus in my brain, blood infections and pneumonia. I went cold blue a couple of times and that was when I was five.

‘A lot of my friends have died of AIDS. Because I don’t have a choice. And I see so many people living recklessly. Just putting their lives on the line. At what point do we get it?  

READ MORE: Hydeia Broadbent dies aged 39: Little girl who shot to global fame after making Oprah cry by revealing she’d been born with AIDS passes away after ‘suffering organ failure’

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‘You are not just dealing with HIV, AIDS. We have to address a person’s mental state because if I don’t feel good and I’m not happy and I don’t want to get out of bed, I’m not going to take these pills to save my life.’

Winfrey welled up during the interview.

A GoFundMe for Broadbent has been launched by her father.

‘Hi I am Loren Broadbent the father of Hydeia Broadbent. Yesterday afternoon Hydeia unexpectedly passed away. Our hearts are broken. 

‘Hydeia spent her whole life since the age of five showing us all how to love, fight, and speak up for those affected with HIV and AIDS. 

‘And as much as I wish she was still here fighting the great fight, God called her home. Letting us all know. Job well done. 

‘In honor of her memory the family would like to lay her to rest. So at this time we are asking for donations. Along with well wishes and prayers. We would like to thank you in advance.’

The crowdfunding page has raised $3,438 out of its $20,000 goal.  

Broadbent told Oprah in the 1996 interview that people’s mental state must be addressed
On her 34th birthday, Broadbent wrote a blog post on her website celebrating the milestone as someone in ‘the first generation of children born HIV positive’
A GoFundMe for Broadbent has been launched by her father in order to ‘lay her to rest’

Despite being a passionate activist, Broadbentwas open about her personal struggles with mental health.

On her 34th birthday she wrote a blog post on her website saying: ‘These last few years have been extremely difficult; struggles with depression, which reached scary points.

 ‘A depression so dark, I was not sure how I would see the beauty in life again. I was unsure of how I’d pull myself back up. I now have a new outlook, I’m able to now see the blessing’s, and lesson’s from my valley. I am a warrior, I raise each day, with purpose, while still being a work in progress.’

The AIDS pandemic began in 1981 and throughout the 1990s when it continued to sweep across America, such a diagnosis meant certain death.

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