What You Don't Know About Magic Johnson's Son EJ

What's the real deal with EJ Johnson? Maybe you've seen him on his E! reality series, "Rich Kids of Beverly Hills" and its spin-off "EJNYC." Maybe you've heard about him on the internet or in a tabloid headline. Either way, there's no doubt that this celebrity kid gets a lot of attention. It's just business as usual — and that business is his family. The rising reality star is the son of NBA legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson and his wife, Earlitha "Cookie" Johnson.

"Obviously, my family's always been in the spotlight," EJ told Out in 2014. "I've always loved being in front of people, being on stage and performing. I love the attention. I love everything about it." In the past, EJ has consistently nabbed headlines for his unapologetic sense of fashion and candid attitude, whether he's speaking about the realities of LGBTQ+ adults or sparring with his sister, Elisa Johnson, on screen. If one thing's for sure, it's that he's got all the makings of a star, but he's forging his own path away from his father's fame.

Here's what you didn't know about EJ Johnson.

EJ Johnson was outed by a tabloid

EJ Johnson publicly came out as gay in 2013 — but only after TMZ essentially outed him, per TheThings. The tabloid posted a video of the star holding hands with a man named Alessandro Monetti. They claimed the pair were an official item. Rather than deny the existence of his boyfriend, the then-20-year-old star rolled with the punches. As it turns out, he was planning on publicly revealing his sexuality anyway.

"I always wanted to come into the spotlight," EJ told the YouTube talk show "Gwissues" shortly after (via ESPN). "I always had dreams and plans of doing my own thing and creating my own image, so it came a little sooner than I thought it would but this is still something I knew I would be going through and would have to experience."

EJ said the reaction to his sexuality varied from positive to extremely harsh, but it doesn't look like he gave his haters too much attention. "It's almost like they're attacking me for being me and so to that I can only say, 'Well, I can only be myself, so I don't know really what you want me to do,'" he said.

The star's family was incredibly supportive

EJ Johnson's sexuality might've surprised the media, but it didn't surprise his parents. The star initially came out to his mother when he was a teenager. "I told her how I was feeling and she obviously told me that she had known and always would love me anyway," he said during an interview with "Gwissues" host Howard Bragman (via ESPN). About a year later, EJ had a similar heart-to-heart chat with his father.

When the TMZ story broke, EJ's parents rallied around their son. Magic Johnson quickly issued a statement, saying, "Cookie and I love EJ and support him in every way. We're very proud of him." That doesn't mean it was always easy, however. In a 2022 interview with Variety, EJ spoke about how his father initially struggled to accept his identity. "Scarves were really big for men's fashion," EJ explained. "And he just could not stand it. He'd come up with stupid rules: 'No scarves in the house.' But it's really not about scarves; it's really about him seeing you be you."

Regardless, EJ admits his loved ones' support helped ground him. "I am very, very, very blessed to have the family that I do," he said on "Gwissues." "... When it was time to come out, I was, obviously, scared as most people are. After I got all the love and support from my family then I knew I could go out and conquer the world, I guess."

EJ Johnson shut down rumors about his gender identity

In 2015, Caitlyn Jenner infamously debuted her transition on the cover of Vanity Fair. It was a total bombshell — and one that inadvertently triggered an onslaught of rumors about EJ Johnson. Now, Johnson has never been shy about his gender-defying sense of fashion. The star even garnered comparisons to Kim Kardashian in 2016 when he attended a wedding wearing a netted jumpsuit that looked like a dress she had worn to Cannes Lion the previous summer. In fact, it was made out of the same material, and the styling was near-identical.

Nonetheless, Jenner's transition raised questions among some of Johnson's fans. "I've always been very fashion-forward," he said in an episode of "EJNYC" (via Us Weekly). "I've always definitely mixed men's and women's fashion in my life, but I never thought that it would raise so many questions about my own gender. I never really thought it was under investigation. Sometimes it's hard being in the middle, kind of in the gray area in my own lane." EJ went on to say, "Now, since everybody's talking about Caitlyn Jenner and being transgender, people are so quick to say, 'Oh, just because you're dressing like that means that you're going to transition to become a woman.'"

Sorry tabloids: EJ is just busy being himself.

He considered transitioning after Caitlyn Jenner's cover story

EJ Johnson's fans aren't the only ones who speculated about his gender identity, however. The star had some questions of his own — especially surrounding Caitlyn Jenner's abovementioned Vanity Fair cover. During that same 2016 episode of "EJNYC," the reality star told his therapist that the cover story made him consider transitioning. "I thought about it, for sure," he said (via Us Weekly). "I was just like, 'Well, do I want to transition? Is this something that I would do?' But I don't feel incomplete in that way. I don't feel the need to do that."

A few years later, EJ finally put the public speculation to rest. The star revealed he was "almost 100 percent positive" that a transition was out of the cards. "I like myself the way that I am. I'm very happy with myself," he said during an appearance on E! News' "Just the Sip" in 2019 (via People). "I always say that if you feel like you're not in the right body, then by all means get to where you want to be. I don't feel that I'm in the wrong body. I feel like this is the body I'm supposed to be in."

EJ concluded, "I don't feel the need to transition. ... I'm just very comfortable in my own skin. I like my body."

Magic Johnson's son lost nearly 200 pounds

According to E! News, EJ Johnson once weighed about 360 pounds but underwent gastric sleeve surgery in early 2015. He revealed on the season finale of "Rich Kids of Beverly Hills" that he'd lost about 180 pounds since the procedure. "The surgery was definitely the best thing that ever happened to me," the star said. "I never thought that I'd look this good, and that is the God's honest truth."

"It's a totally new mindset," EJ told Page Six that September. "I'm completely dedicated to living a new, healthy lifestyle." He also shared some insight into his diet and exercise routine. "I really think it's important that you not listen to so many fads; you really need to find what works for you," the "EJNYC" star explained, going on to note, "But that doesn't mean you're done after that because you don't like what's hot. You need to get creative."

He found out his dad had HIV because of a book report

In 2017, EJ Johnson got candid with The New York Times about his sports star father's very public journey with HIV, which began when EJ's mother was two months pregnant with him. Of course, the revelation about Magic Johnson's diagnosis — said to be the result of an extra-marital affair — led to a significant period of turmoil for the family. 

However, despite the frenzied headlines and strained family dynamic, EJ was not even aware of his father's illness until he learned about it by accident after stumbling upon a reference to his dad while researching a book report in elementary school. "The school called my mom and was like, 'We don't know if you want him to do the book report, because it talks about the H.I.V.,'" EJ said, adding, "I think it was at that point that they told me that he had been sick and he's a lot better."

EJ Johnson's reality show was canceled after six episodes

According to the Associated Press, EJ Johnson attended New York University with an event management and design major while minoring in fashion, journalism, and media. He was cast in the first season of E!'s "Rich Kids of Beverly Hills" during his junior year. After four seasons, he'd also appeared on "Fashion Police" and worked as a red-carpet special correspondent, and the network gave EJ his own spin-off called "EJNYC" in 2016.

The reality series followed the eponymous star, sister Elisa Johnson, and their high-class crew living their best lives in the Big Apple. Per BET, the show was "not completely ratchet with hair pulling and fighting," but let's be honest, it wasn't exactly "Masterpiece Theater," either. The series lasted just six episodes. Speaking with The New York Times, EJ shed light on what went wrong. He was unhappy with his portrayal on the show, saying, "I don't even recognize that person. It was sad. It was, like, this is supposed to be my show and my moment, and it wasn't what I wanted at all. I mean, I looked good, but that was just me doing me." EJ singled out the show's producers, claiming, "Everyone was just worried about me being 'relatable,' and even that word made me want to gag."

"Rich Kids of Beverly Hills" was simultaneously canceled. An insider told ET, "The cast was upset because they wanted at least one more season to give closure to their storylines," but it sounds like EJ was ready to be done with all things E! at that point.

He's eyeballing a career in fashion

EJ Johnson has long thought about taking a stab at the fashion industry. Already a trailblazer who's been challenging long-standing gender stereotypes when it comes to his attire, EJ was considering launching his own fashion collection back in 2017, according to The New York Times. When asked about the fashion industry's embrace of more androgynous styles and expression, EJ said, "I don't think the fashion world has made any type of major huge strides, where we need to start commending anybody yet. They should probably start highlighting people who are doing it in the streets, as opposed to whatever celebrity they're putting in a skirt for five seconds just for publicity."

As for Louis Vuitton using Will Smith's son, Jaden Smith, in its women's line ads the previous year, EJ claimed, "If you're going to do it, I think you should go with somebody who's actually doing it because they genuinely get it as opposed to somebody who just has a name and was doing it just to be out there." Oh, snap. As of this writing in 2022, EJ has not launched his own fashion line, but we're certainly keeping an eye out for it.

EJ Johnson has talked candidly about racism

EJ Johnson once told BET that racism hasn't been a significant problem in his life. "Yeah, racism, not so much. We've come across little random tidbits maybe, obviously when I'm in different parts of the world and other countries, things are different," he claimed. "... Here [in the United States] I do not experience that much racism, I feel like that's probably more prevalent before I was born."

It was an arguably tone-deaf remark for the otherwise media-savvy fashionista, particularly since he was so outspoken about the Donald Sterling controversy that inadvertently ensnared his father. To recap: during a bizarre interview in 2014 with Anderson Cooper, Sterling — the former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who was banned from the NBA for life for making racist remarks — claimed that Magic Johnson "should be ashamed of himself" for contracting HIV.

"We were just so astonished at the things he was saying, and not just that he brought my dad into it, but the fact that he was being just blatantly racist. It was kind of like an 'aha moment,' the realization that people like that still exist," EJ told The Daily Beast that same year, adding, "He's a walking joke."

Magic Johnson's son wants to be a role model

EJ Johnson is aware that as a public figure who is a member of two marginalized groups, he has a responsibility to be a role model. When talking about his position as the Celebrity Grand Marshall of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade in 2014 (via E! News), EJ said, "Whether it's the African-American community, or in my case, the gay community, it's important to make sure that we represent those communities in a positive way."

According to BET, he also recognizes how lucky he is to be able to live freely as "a young Black man in the public eye who plays with gender norms." EJ added, "I'm fortunate that I'm in a world where I can do what I want to do and walk down the street in whatever I want to wear and break those walls down."

EJ also gave advice to closeted young people who might be looking to his lifestyle as a road map for their own. "I say dance around in your closet when no one is looking until the time is right," he told BET, advising readers to "just make sure you're safe." Crediting dad Magic Johnson for giving him the following advice, EJ recalled, "Make sure you check your surroundings and be you, do you, but make sure you're not putting yourself in dangerous situations where you could get hurt."

Do EJ Johnson and his sister have the same type?

When you're close with your siblings, you don't ever really consider that one day you might be competing for boyfriends. As it turns out, EJ Johnson and his younger sister, Elisa Johnson, have the same type — so much so that she started dating his pseudo-ex in 2016.

EJ dropped the bombshell during an episode of "EJNYC," where he claimed that Elisa's then-boyfriend, French model Anthony Alcaraz, was the same guy he had previously kissed in a club. "I was told not to say anything about him kissing me, but he did. It happened," he said (via the Daily Mail). "The man that led me on is now hooking up with my sister, and I'm supposed to be OK with it."

According to E! News' recap, EJ urged his sister to call it quits with Alcaraz, and it looks like she eventually heeded his advice. TMZ Sports published the last known paparazzi photo of the pair in 2017 and called Alcaraz Elisa's "quasi-boyfriend." That pretty much says all we really need to know.