Inside The Lives Of Magic Johnson's Children

Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. is best-known for his skills on the basketball court, but he's also a devoted family man. In 1977, he met Earlitha "Cookie" Kelly when they were both 18-year-old freshmen in college, and in 1991, they tied the knot. Just 45 days later, Johnson announced he had tested positive for HIV. While Cookie told ABC News she never considered leaving him, she was "scared to death" because she had just learned she was pregnant. Luckily, she and the baby tested negative, and the couple welcomed son Earvin "EJ" Johnson III in 1992.

Despite such a difficult start, the pair celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary in 2019, and, as Magic recalled on Instagram, theirs has been a lifelong love. "I told you and my parents after three months of dating that you were going to be the one I was going to marry," he wrote. "And by far, marrying you was one of the best decisions I've ever made." In addition to EJ, they're also proud parents to Johnson's oldest son from a previous relationship, Andre Johnson (who was born in 1981), and, in 1994, they adopted Elisa Johnson when she was just three days old. Here's your look inside the lives of Magic Johnson's children.

The Johnson kids had a 'normal' childhood

Magic Johnson may be a basketball legend who's been crowned NBA MVP three times and, as of August 2020, had a whopping $600 million net worth – but his kids swear they grew up like the rest of us. Speaking with The New York Times, EJ insisted that he's "not just some other rich girl," and during an interview with Just the Sip, he debunked the misconceptions created by his stint on #RichKids of Beverly Hills. "People just assumed that all my friends were like super-duper wealthy," he noted, but "to be quite honest, like, that was the first time when I started hanging out with a group of kids who were, like, uber-duper wealthy, too — that was different to me," he said.

Meanwhile, Elisa told CR that the Johnson household is just like any other — with a few exceptions. "I had a totally normal upbringing — my dad was just my dad," she told the outlet. "The only difference was that people would come up to us a lot and ask for photos, or we would need security for certain trips," she recalled, adding, "As a young girl I was proud because I thought my dad was a superhero."

EJ Johnson's coming out was difficult (at first)

EJ Johnson's parents are extremely supportive of his sexuality, but that wasn't always the case. Getting candid on a 2018 episode of Red Table Talk, EJ's mom, Cookie, said she had a feeling her son might be gay when he was three years old. "That's when he started wanting to put on the princess costumes at school," she recalled. Then, at "five years old, we put him in sports, and instead of catching the ball, he's in the field picking flowers," she laughed.

It wasn't until a trip to Hawaii when Cookie noticed a 15-year-old EJ ogling boys on the beach that she decided to say something. "The talk wasn't, 'You can't be this.' The talk was, 'Do you think you are?'" she explained. Cookie gave EJ her support but admitted, "It wasn't easy. We're from the Midwest — everything is straight-laced." As for Magic, his initial reaction was, "'It's not what I wanted for my son,'" but he came around the next day. EJ remembered his dad telling him, "'We're going to get through this and, you know, I just need time.' And we both just kind of started crying a little bit."

Five years later, in 2013, EJ had his public coming out when TMZ caught him holding hands with a man on Sunset Strip. "It was almost as if I was coming out of the closet again," he told Gwist.

Elisa Johnson made her adoption story public

When she was three days old, Elisa was adopted by Magic and Cookie Johnson, but as she told CR, she "never felt out of place growing up." Her parents also didn't hide her past, and she met her birth mother, Dawn, when she turned 18. The pair even filmed a candid reunion scene for EJNYC in 2016. "I always get a little nervous before I see my birth mom, and I think she does too because we're both very emotional people," Elisa revealed, admitting it's still "surreal" to see her mother.

Dawn also shared her adoption story in a 2010 blog post, revealing she was 17 when she got pregnant. Having been raised by her grandmother in a religious household, she was "extremely afraid" to tell the truth and hid it from everyone (except Elisa's birth father) for six months. "Embarrassment was written all over her face," Dawn recalled of her grandmother's reaction. She was immediately instructed to have an abortion, but she was too far along, so she was sent to live with her dad in California and find an adoptive family there.

After leaving her baby at the hospital, Dawn "cried for hours. I tried to make myself believe that I was doing the right thing, or saying this is what is best for her, but I was just angry," she admitted. As she confessed on EJNYC, the "pain" of placing a child for adoption "does not go away."

EJ Johnson underwent a drastic weight loss transformation

After years of unsuccessful dieting, EJ Johnson underwent gastric sleeve surgery when he was 22 years old. E! confirmed that the reality star had gone under the knife in August 2014 after hinting at the procedure during the season two finale of #RichKids of Beverly Hills. "A lot of people think it's the easy way out, but it's not," EJ justified on the show (via E!). Calling it "a huge deal," he added, "It's a step in the right direction."

By October, EJ had lost 50 pounds and told People the transformation was "really exciting." Revealing that he had been considering the procedure for two years before getting it done, he admitted to struggling with weight "pretty much all of [his] life" and explained, "Nothing was working, and I wanted to make a more permanent decision to get back on track." As for why he waited, he said, "I wanted to wait until I was a little bit older to know how to handle myself afterwards." 

Jump to March 2016, and EJ had lost 180 pounds and was keeping it off through diet and exercise. He told E! he has swapped large meals for snacking throughout the day, has hired a personal trainer, and does "a lot of Pilates [...] at least four days a week." As he gushed to Page Six, he's "completely dedicated to living a new, healthy lifestyle. It's given me a whole new view on life," he concluded.

Advocacy runs deep in the Johnson family

If there's one thing EJ and Elisa have in common with their parents, it's that they all believe in giving back. First, there was Magic Johnson, who, in 1991, revealed his HIV diagnosis, retired from the Los Angeles Lakers, and went on to become a passionate advocate for HIV/AIDS education, testing, and destigmatization. EJ was privy to the cause early on, accompanying his parents to fundraisers at Elizabeth Taylor's house when he was just a child, and eventually began his own advocacy for the LGBTQ community.

Meanwhile, Cookie Johnson is a proud supporter of the Ladylike Foundation, which aims to "educate, empower and inspire young women living in underprivileged communities." Daughter Elisa also helps the foundation, but she hopes to do much more than that. She told W she hopes to work with kids who have been through foster care and adoption — "I know what it's like to feel sometimes like you're not whole, that something's missing," she said — and told CR it's also "really important to me to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS, so I hope I'll be able to help educate people about it."

What's more, as of 2020, Elisa is running a blog called Selected By Elisa, which aims to "amplify Black achievements in fashion, beauty, advocacy, and beyond," as well as "provide resources to help activate change, and have conversations about issues young people face daily."

EJ Johnson is 100% confident in his gender identity

EJ has been known to wear bold makeup, colorful wigs, and, as The New York Times put it, a "gender-diverse wardrobe," which has resulted in questions about his gender identity. Not one to shy away from his truth, he set the record straight in April 2019, telling Just the Sip he's not really interested in labels. "I like myself the way that I am," he proclaimed.

Asked about transitioning, he explained, "I always say that I think that if you feel like, you know, you're not in the right body, then, by all means, get to where you want to be [but] I don't feel that I'm in the wrong body." EJ went on to say that he feels "like this is the body that I'm supposed to be in and I can dress it up, mild to wild. Dress it down. Wear nothing at all. I can be butch. I can be fem. I can do whatever I want with it," he continued. "I don't feel the need to transition. I'm almost 100 percent positive I won't," he revealed, adding, "I'm just very comfortable in my own skin. I like my body."

What's more, he's happy with his overall evolution. "I handle myself a lot differently, and I'm happiest with this new person that I've kind of become over the past, like, year or so," he told Just the Sip. "I've done a low of growing, I think."

Elisa was the victim of a scary home invasion

It reads like a scene straight out of a movie: Elisa Johnson stayed in a San Fernando Valley Airbnb with 10 friends when two armed men broke into the home and began terrorizing the guests. According to TMZ, Elisa was in her bedroom when chaos erupted, and she managed to run away by exiting through a sliding glass door at the back of the house. While she has never gone into detail about what happened that day, TMZ confirmed that the men had guns and that they got away with $30,000 to $40,000-worth of jewels, cash, and electronics.

Despite fleeing, Elisa didn't get away scot-free. Taking to Instagram in 2019, she revealed that the December 2018 incident left her with serious physical scars. "Months ago, I escaped from a home invasion and in the process I was left with intense scarring on my stomach," she wrote, admitting, "Until now I've been so afraid to show these scars, and incredibly insecure about the way I look. But I now realize these scars are a part of my journey, and tell the story of who I am." She added, "I love my body, and I am proud to be in the place I am today."

EJ Johnson his recognized for his LGBTQ advocacy

EJ has always spoken his truth and, in turn, given his fans the courage to do the same. An outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights, EJ used his stint on #Rich Kids of Beverly Hills and its spinoff, EJNYC, to bring a voice to those who don't have one. "There wasn't any show that profiled a young person of color with a different sexual orientation living their life," he told The New York Times of why he agreed to reality TV. "I'm not just some other rich girl who's trying to get a show."

He's also worked with Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Fund, which "implements innovative solutions to youth homelessness," and in 2017 moderated a Beautycon panel called "The Gender Revolution" during which he talked about "breaking boundaries" in beauty, saying (via The New York Times), "That is what beauty is all about."

It's no wonder then that the HRC Foundation (whose mission it is to better the lives of the LGBTQ community) announced it would honor EJ with an award during HRC's Time to THRIVE conference in 2019. Calling him "a powerful role model to LGBTQ youth everywhere," Vincent Pompei, the director of HRC's Youth Well-Being Project, noted how EJ is "showing through his work to end LGBTQ homelessness that all young people deserve a safe and inclusive place to thrive, and an equal chance to succeed in all aspects of their lives" (via On Top Magazine).

Andre Johnson got his start working for his father

Andre Johnson may be the most low-profile Johnson child, but what we do know is that he followed in his dad's footsteps... sort of. When Magic's oldest son got his Associate Degree in Business Management from Santa Monica College in 2002, he had already been working in A&R at Elektra Entertainment since 1999. According to his LinkedIn, that allowed him the opportunity to work "with talent such as Jay Z, Missy Elliott and Gwen Stefani," but he decided to leave it all behind in 2004 to join his father's company, Magic Johnson Enterprises, which helps "build businesses" and create jobs in multicultural communities.

Snagging the role of Vice President of Business Development, Andre spent the next five and a half years "building new initiatives and enhancing existing partnerships," as well as managing "daily operations of the Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund," and more. In January 2010, he briefly went off to work for Canyon Capital Advisors in Asset Management, but by August 2012, he was back at Magic Johnson Enterprises. This time around, he served as Executive Vice President and through April 2014 was "directing and coordinating activities consistent with established goals, objectives, and policies," as well as "implement[ing] improved processes and management methods to generate higher ROI and workflow optimization."

Andre Johnson is a serial entrepreneur

Following his start at Magic Johnson Enterprises, Andre Johnson switched gears and set his sights on entrepreneurship. As of December 2018, he's been the Vice President Of Business Development at Mythical Games, "a next-generation game technology studio." According to his LinkedIn page, Andre prides himself on having "strong entrepreneurial acumen and [is] skilled in identifying sensible opportunities that offer strong ROI or are a first-of-its kind innovation." The dad of two also calls himself a "Chief Inspiration Officer" on Instagram and lives up to the Johnson family name with everything he does. "Andre makes me proud every single day because he is a tremendous father, husband, and astute businessman," Magic tweeted in 2020.

Over the years, Andre has worked with startups and launched his own projects, including co-founding Love + Light Ventures, LLC in April 2014, and joining The Virtual Reality Company as Head of Business Development in May 2016. While there, he helped create "premium VR experiences by combining the best in technology, art, and digital story-telling." According to one glowing review from a VRC colleague, Andre is "a true mentor," "an amazing leader and friend," and "the most genuine, positive and inspiring person that I know, whom everyone in the company turns to for advice."

Elisa Johnson briefly followed in her dad's footsteps

Magic Johnson's NBA career is unrivaled. Not only is he listed as one of the NBA's Top 50 Players of all time, but he's also a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and, even after his 1991 retirement, he continued making waves in the League. In 1993, for example, he became Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, and in 1994, he purchased an ownership share in the team. So when Elisa showed a talent for basketball early on, it was assumed she'd join the WNBA and become the next big Johnson sports star. Something she didn't really want.

"It actually made me not want to do it, because it was a lot of pressure," Elisa told W about playing basketball in junior high. "When he would come, I would get more nervous," she admitted. "I remember this one time, I got hit in the face with a ball because I was freaking out that he was at my game." But it wasn't until ninth grade that she "tried to move away from the norm of things and do my own thing" after her team failed to make it into the playoffs. "Everyone was crying, and I wasn't crying," she said of her aha moment.

Elisa Johnson is 'blessed with a lot of talents'

After realizing sports were not her calling, Elisa Johnson set her sights on a career in entertainment. In addition to building her Instagram presence (as of August 2020, she had 392k followers), she told CR that her goal is to "make a name for myself in the fashion and entertainment worlds. A major goal of mine is to have my own sunglasses line as they're kind of my signature piece," she said, adding, "I've also always wanted to be a performer slash singer. That's my greatest passion, but I do worry about how harsh the industry can be."

Speaking with Ssense, she proclaimed, "I have a lot of dreams, because I was blessed with a lot of talents." Revealing that she's "been in love with singing and performing since I was six years old," she told the outlet that her mother actually forced her to get a college degree first. "So I went to FIT, because I felt like fashion came easy to me," she explained. "But designing is something you really have to apply yourself to and you can't really have a social life — and I kind of want to have a social life," she reasoned. "So I thought, 'What if I did fashion business?' I want to be a businesswoman. I think long-term. The fun stuff can come after," she concluded.

Is there a fourth Johnson child?

Earvin Johnson wasn't just Magic on the basketball court — he also had plenty of magic when it came to wooing the opposite sex. According to U.S. Olympic women's basketball team alum and close friend Pamela McGee, "Earvin was a notorious womanizer. He had thousands during his career," she told R Online.

One of those women was allegedly Renee Perkins, who claims the pair met in 1981, but that Johnson quickly dumped her after learning she had become pregnant in 1982. In January 2017, the Atlanta native alleged that her then-35-year-old son, Chauncey, was actually Johnson's secret love child and that his advisor, Dr. Charles Tucker, had told her at the time she "really had to get an abortion, and that Magic was not going to be with me because he had his career to worry about."

Speaking with R Online, Perkins added, "It tore me apart because I really didn't want to have or raise a child on my own." In order to back up her claims, she showed the outlet "a letter from her attorney and a Los Angeles lab," proving that she and Johnson had taken blood tests in 1982 to establish paternity, however, she claims she never got her hands on the results.