Magic Johnson Talks About The Day He Found Out He Had HIV, E.J.’s Coming Out & Cookie

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The day he learned he had HIV

Oprah: Had you been sick?

Magic: Just a regular check up, I didn’t know, I wasn’t sick. I was just sitting in a hotel in Utah, getting ready for an exhibition game against the Jazz. Dr. Melman called and said ‘hey, you gotta come back home.’ And I said, ‘Won’t I play the game, we’re coming back tomorrow?’ He said, ‘No, you got to come now.’

I walk in the office and he started talking about the test, insurance company you gotta take physicals and what came out of the physical was that you have HIV.

Oprah: You were on the floor yourself, I heard for two hours.

Magic: Oh yeah, it was just… You’re just in disbelief and in shock. You’re sitting there like ‘man, how could this happen to me?’ and what does this mean? But I was just devastated because I thought I had done everything right. And then the worse thing was Cookie was pregnant with EJ. Just been married. And all that came crumbling down. And the worst thing about it is I knew I was going to hurt her. Because she had waited for me, been patient with me, supported me and now I’m about to break her heart. So that ride home, the worst thing that you can do is to ride home and try to figure out how I’m going to break this news to her, this devastating news.

As soon as I got to the door, she knew something was wrong. And she was like, ‘what’s wrong?’ I sat her down in the room next to this room and I just sat her down and began to tell her that I had HIV. And that just broke her heart, she began to cry, not knowing what that meant for her and the baby at that time. And then as she’s crying, I often tell people when you make a mistake, you not only hurt yourself but you hurt the ones that love you. And that hurt me. I had just committed to her, I had just said, ‘aww man we’re going to do this.’ And then I said, ‘hey, I can understand if you want to leave me. Because I’m now turning your life upside down.’

And she smacked me upside my head and said ‘we’re going to beat this together, let’s get on our knees and pray.’ And that’s what we did. And I got the great news later, God blessed us when the test results came back on her and the baby that she didn’t have HIV and the baby didn’t either. I don’t know what would have happened if I had got that news that she had HIV as well. That would have been just devastating to me.

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