Like many of us old enough to remember, Pau Gasol vividly recalls his thoughts upon hearing that Magic Johnson announced he had tested positive for HIV and thus would retire from NBA basketball. Indeed, Gasol was touched enough by what had happened to his sports hero that he began following an academic path into med school.

As detailed on an ESPN segment earlier this year, Gasol’s “Path Not Taken” was ultimately foregone so that the young man could rise through the FC Barcelona basketball ranks and eventually play in the U.S.

Today, Gasol’s possible paths meet with a new public service announcement presented on television as part of World AIDS Day 2010. While cities internationally will be swathed in red and/or observing the date in other fashions, the PR wing of the United Nations’ World AIDS Day organization launched its latest in the “Greater than AIDS” campaign.

Gasol has been one of the more visible figures in the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program in recent years and has been named to the UNAIDS High Level Commission on HIV Prevention.

Alongside Gasol in the campaign are Russell Westbrook, Al Horford and Candace Wiggins; a potential on-court all-star team, this quartet also comprises quite a charitable bunch. Wiggins’ father died of AIDS and the WNBA player has formed a partnership with nonprofit Until There’s A Cure. Horford has frequently been noted locally for initiatives in Atlanta, while Westbrook notably took up the mantle of two-sport star last spring for the Oklahoma City Urban Youth Scholarship Fund.

To find out more about the campaign, UN programs on AIDS awareness or other related issues, please visit HIVPreventionCommission.net.

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