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From Brooklyn, New York to China, the world held its breath when Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. held a press conference at the Los Angeles Forum on November 7, 1991.

The Los Angeles Lakers point guard and global basketball star announced he was HIV positive. Without going into much detail, he disclosed he contracted the disease through one of his many sexual partners throughout his playing career.

A widely stigmatized and murky topic at the time, the iconic basketball player immediately retired from the NBA.

To his right sat his wife Cookie Johnson — a place especially reserved for her.

Magic Johnson’s Wife Cookie Johnson

RELATED: Magic Johnson’s Net Worth: How Rich is the NBA Icon Today?

Johnson and and Earlitha “Cookie” Kelly were college sweethearts at Michigan State University. They married in 1991 at a small ceremony in Lansing, Michigan.

Forty-five days later, the NBA player confessed his HIV diagnosis to his wife. Cookie was pregnant at the time and had to be tested for herself and the couple’s unborn child. Fortunately, the test came back negative.

Their son, Earvin Johnson III, otherwise known as EJ, was born on June 4, 1992. EJ Johnson publicly came out as gay in 2013. He was a cast member of the E! reality show Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. He has an active social media presence with over 710,000 followers on Instagram.

Magic Johnson at the premier of Apple TV's "They Call Me Magic."
Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic via Getty Images

While EJ was Cookie’s first child, Magic had previously fathered a son, Andre Johnson, in 1981. Andre was raised by his mother Melissa Mitchell, but the 12-time NBA All-Star made it a point for his oldest son to visit him each summer. Magic and Cookie adopted a daughter, Elisa Johnson, in 1995.

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In 2016, Cookie sat down with ABC News to share her side of the relationship. In describing the ups and downs of their time together, she elaborated on her initial reaction to Magic’s HIV:

“It scared me to death. I mean, I fell to my knees,” Cookie told [Good Morning America] co-anchor Robin Roberts. “We both fell on our knees and we started crying.”

Devastated by the news, the NBA star told Cookie he completely understood if she wanted to leave. She dismissed the idea and dedicated herself to helping him beat the disease.

Her memoir, Believing in Magic: My Story of Love, Overcoming Adversity, and Keeping the Faith, was released in September 2016.

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Cookie happily leaves the spotlight to her husband with the million-dollar smile. The professional basketball legend is much more than an Olympic gold-medal winning point guard who dished out assists and won NBA championships. He’s also a business mogul in California through Magic Johnson Enterprises. Some of his many ventures include being a part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Sparks and Los Angeles Football Club as well as starting a movie theater chain. Additionally, he’s made multiple appearances at the White House, has a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and created the Magic Johnson Foundation to help combat HIV/AIDS.

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In April 2020, Magic shared his thoughts on the similarities between HIV and the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 outbreak — specifically how they both affect the African-American community.

No matter what venture the NBA legend is involved in, Cookie is right there for support.

MORE: Larry Bird’s Wife Keeps a Low Profile

Joe Grobeck About the author:
Joe is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and lives in Austin, Texas. He believes Ndaumkong Suh should've won the 2009 Heisman and is an avid basketball fan.
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