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Earvin Magic Johnson, Cookie Johnson, EJ Johnson attend 'To...

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arvin “Magic” Johnson struggled with his son EJ’s homosexuality, and the NBA great spoke with Variety on how his relationship with EJ eventually transformed into one of acceptance. But the 62-year-old first had to unpackage his baggage.

“When you grow up in team sports, you’re thinking, ‘Is he gonna play sports?'” the Lakers legend told the publication. “And then when I saw that he liked dolls and to play dress-up … ‘What are you doing?'” Magic mentioned having those conflicting feelings in the past, notably when he and his wife Cookie appeared on The Steve Harvey Show six years ago to promote her book, Believing in Magic: My Story of Love, Overcoming Adversity, and Keeping the Faith.

EJ also shared that he was unsure of how his dad would receive him, and Magic’s second son discussed his family’s difficulty when breaking the news before going away to college. “Especially my dad, because he was really the last person to talk to,” he told Variety. “I think it was just a lot for him to swallow in that conversation. A lot of just going back and forth. And he just was rattling off about things that weren’t particularly nice.”

Magic’s time away from his son gave him time to reflect. EJ was newly into his NYU college career when the retired NBA champ flew to East Coast to see his son and mend their relationship. “I had only been gone for two months,” EJ told the outlet. “He picked me up at my dorm, and I was like, ‘Oh, whatever, hey.’ And he hugged me so hard — he was, like, squeezing all the air out of me. That’s when I knew there’s nothing but love here.”

Not everyone’s been as welcoming of EJ’s sexual orientation, however. Magic spoke about how many people dislike that he loves his son. But Cookie, EJ’s mother, tells a story of how the Johnson family’s public support of their son inspired others as well.

“I remember a young man came up and said to me one day, ‘I really want to thank you and your husband for what you’re doing,'” she recounted. “‘I’m gay, but I didn’t want to tell my parents,'” the individual told Mrs. Johnson. “‘When I went away to college, I got [HIV]. But with you guys talking about this, bringing it to everyone’s attention, it’s made me feel I’m gonna be okay, and I’m going to fight harder.'”

Photo: Pacific Press / Getty