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November 19th, 2013
11:02 PM ET

NBA legend on HIV/AIDS, gay son

Earvin “Magic” Johnson described himself as "the blessing and the curse of HIV" in an interview with Anderson Cooper and also opened up about his gay son who came out publicly a few months ago.

"I'm the blessing because people were talking about it, they ran out and got tested at that time. Then I'm the curse because…people now say, oh well, HIV is nothing because if I get it I can be like Magic. He's doing good, and I can do the same thing he's doing or take the same medicine he's taking and I'll be okay," Johnson said. "But what they don't understand, in 22 years, millions of people have died."

More than two decades ago, when the basketball legend tested positive for HIV, Johnson was taking a 15 pills three times a day. Now, he takes three pills once a day at dinnertime.

Johnson helped change attitudes, and his good health is a testament to how far treatment has come. However, he’s concerned about African American and Latino communities where the number of HIV infections among men who have sex with men is proportionally higher than other groups.

A father of three, including his 20-year-old gay son, Johnson spoke about challenges gay family members have in his community.

"Just like my son E.J. came out, it was important that Cookie and I support our son. We love our son, we're going to support him 150 percent, but we're one of the minorities in this," Johnson said. "In the black community, young gay men or young ladies who are lesbians, they're afraid to tell their parents."

To pastors and Christians who expressed concerns to him about his son being gay, Johnson said he told them, "Hey, I love my son, nothing is going to change that. I don't care if you don't agree and you don't want to deal with me or don't like me, that's on you, but I said tell me when it hits your own family..."

Johnson said he has worked with members of the gay community to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS since he tested positive 22 years ago, and he hopes they will provide support to his son.

"What I wanted the gay community to do for me is help my son, right - give him the right information, help him to grow and be a good young man. Things that I can't talk about, that I don't know about, they can help him."

He believes E.J.’s decision to come out publicly has helped save lives too.

"A lot of young people decided to tell their parents once he came out, and so it was great to see that."

Take a look at some behind-the-scenes photos from their interview:

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Filed under: AIDS • Anderson Cooper • HIV
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Joe

    Far better to be open and honest about being gay than closeted. Young gay people need the support of friends and family so that they can avoid the promiscuous lifestyle that men of all orientations easily fall pray to. Far better to be an accepting church community that welcomes gay people and encourages monogamous relationship than disparaging communities that force gay people out to the streets for their education and to hook up indiscriminately.

    December 12, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  2. Sarah

    Magic Johnson is a great father. He is the best person to guide his son how to avoid the same mistake he went through. Having HIV is a choice. Stay away and say no to temptation. Ask God's wisdom for your son to make the right decision in life everyday so that he will not fall into temptation. Life here on earth is a battle and victory is through Jesus Christ alone. You are more than a conqueror in Christ and your son will also be a conqueror in life as you fight for him through prayers.

    November 21, 2013 at 3:47 am |
    • jessicaskyedavies

      No, Sarah, it's not a choice. It is preventable, but that doesn't make it a choice. You can make better, healthier choices, but getting HIV isn't a choice (except for an infinitesimal few who actively seek to seroconvert). Saying that getting HIV is a choice is stigmatizing and won't help either visibility or prevention.

      November 25, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
      • Kim

        I think what she meant was its totally preventable and he got it because he was reckless. I am glad though that he and his family are healthy.

        November 30, 2013 at 11:57 pm |

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