Magic Johnson's name is synonymous with Lansing, Michigan State, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the NBA, in general. But that may have never happened without George Fox.

Fox coached and developed Magic at Lansing Everett High School. He died Monday at 88 years old.

Fox led Magic and Everett to the Michigan Class A state championship in basketball in 1977. The Vikings went 27-1, beating Birmingham Brother Rice in overtime of the the state title game, 62-56. The year before, during Magic's junior year of high school, Everett advanced to the state semifinals before falling to Detroit Catholic Central, 68-60. In 1975, Everett lost to Dearborn Fordson in the state quarterfinals in Magic's sophomore season.

Magic issued a statement about his former high school basketball coach on Monday.

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The text of Magic's full statement follows:

My heart sincerely hurts after hearing that my high school basketball coach, George Fox, passed away. As a young 15-year-old, Coach Fox helped me become a better basketball player and person. He pushed me to be great on and off the court.

During my high school years, a 6’9” point guard was unheard of, yet because of his out-of-the-box thinking, he assigned me to play point guard even though I was the tallest player on the team. He was always there for me when I had questions about basketball and college.

After I left Everett, he followed my career at MSU & with the Lakers & would always send me nice notes. I will forever be grateful for his leadership, friendship, & influence in my life. Rest in peace Coach! Cookie & I are praying for the entire Fox family during this difficult time.

Fox was a great high school basketball player himself, leading Fowler to a state championship in 1952. He was a great player for Alma College after.

Fox posted a career record of 350-125 at Everett. The 1977 state championship made him the first Michigander ever to win a state title both as a player and as a coach. He was inducted into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.

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