Magic Johnson on How Son EJ's Story Helped Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade with Zaya

The former Lakers star's son came out publicly as gay in 2013

Magic Johnson attends the Los Angeles premiere of Apple's "They Call Me Magic"
Photo: JC Olivera/WireImage

Earvin "Magic" Johnson and his son EJ Johnson offered a helping hand to Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union after the couple's daughter Zaya Wade came out as transgender.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight ahead of the release of his new Apple TV+ docuseries They Call Me Magic, the former Lakers star, 62, revealed that EJ, who came out publicly as gay in 2013, helped inspire Wade, 40, and Union, 49, who publicly opened up about Zaya's gender identity more than two years ago.

For Magic, supporting his friends was only natural. "We've always been people who try to do the right thing and do the thing we were supposed to do," he explained. "No way we were not gonna support our son. No way we were gonna not love him, as we tell him, be who you want to be, we gonna love you regardless, we gonna support you."

He continued, "And then because of that, Dwyane and Gabs said, 'Oh man, look at that.' We are looking at out part, do our own thing with our own son, so if we can help anybody just by being who we are, just by doing the right thing, that's a good thing and a powerful thing."

EJ Johnson and Magic Johnson attend the Los Angeles premiere of Apple's "They Call Me Magic"
Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Dwyane revealed that Zaya, whom he shares with ex-wife Siohvaughn Funches, was transgender in 2019. In April 2021, Union told PEOPLE in a joint interview with her husband that the family initially "didn't have many resources" to rely on.

"So I just reached out to everyone I knew from social media," Union recalled at the time. "Everyone responded with love, resources and information."

At the premiere for They Call Me Magic, Union told ET that Magic and his wife Cookie Johnson were particularly helpful in assisting her family after Zaya came out.

Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Unio
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"It's all about perseverance and putting your family first and loving every member of your family equally and out loud. And they showed us the way," the Cheaper by the Dozen star said at the time, noting that Magic and Cookie "were the first people we called."

"They gave us the blueprint," she continued. "And literally, every step of the way, in my career, in his career, they have been there."

Dwyane shared similar sentiments with ET. "To me, that's like what Magic and Cookie have been to us as adults," he said. "And to see EJ do the same thing to Zaya, it was amazing."

Ultimately, Johnson said he is thankful that he and his son "have influenced people" both on and off the court. "If we've done that," he told ET, "then we have been a blessing."

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