Cookie Johnson On 25 Years Of Marriage: “I Put It In The Lord’s Hands”
When asked what it takes to have a successful and long marriage, many couples will say communication, patience, and faith. And for celebrity power couple Earvin “Magic” Johnson and his wife, Cookie, it’s no different.
Last year, the retired NBA legend-turned-businessman surprised his wife with a beyond lavish yacht party in Monaco to celebrate 25 years of marriage, and to call it spectacular would be an understatement. Magic and Cookie were already in Venice, Italy, celebrating their milestone anniversary, when the former NBA star flew in all of their friends to Monaco without Cookie’s knowledge. Magic, 58, also paid for all of the travel expenses.
Celeb guests included Samuel L. Jackson, Steve Harvey, LL Cool J, Smokey Robinson, Tina Knowles, Biz Markie, Bill Bellamy, Holly Robinson Peete, Cedric the Entertainer, Pat Riley, Sugar Ray Leonard, as well as their significant others.
But like most couples, all those years of marriage weren’t always the warm and fuzzy. There were some tough times.
“We had our ups and downs. We had a period where we were about to separate,” Cookie revealed. “There was a point where I was home all the time; he was working. Sometimes you start growing apart a little because he’s seeing new adventurous stuff. He’s out in the world. He’s growing. [But] I’m stagnant.”
One of roughest patches the couple endured was, of course when Magic announced in 1991 that he had contracted HIV. The announcement shocked the world with the announcement and sportswriters almost immediately began composing his obituary.
“He came walking in the door and I thought he was going to be on TV,” Mrs. Johnson said. “I knew something was wrong, really wrong. And when my girlfriend left he sat down and said, ‘I’ve got something to tell you.’ And I said, ‘What is it?’ And he came right out and said it. And I was devastated.”
“The scariest part for me was not knowing if I had it,” Cookie said at an awards dinner for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
“Then that week I found out I was pregnant, so I didn’t know if my baby had it…back then you had to wait at least 10 days to find out what your results were, so that was traumatic.”
Both her and her son, Earvin III, tested negative. His announcement is viewed by some as a turning point in how Americans viewed a virus which some said was only a ‘gay disease.’
“I’ve never felt angry at him, because it wasn’t like he knew anything, it wasn’t like it happened while we were married,” she said calmly. “I was just scared for both of us. And I dealt with it, and still deal with it, spiritually. I’ve gotten deeper into my religion. I just turned it over to the Lord and put it in His hands and that’s how we dealt with it. I’m going to let Him take care of it, and we pray for Earvin’s healing and we go on and live our days, from day to day.”
“If I had kept going [that way] and the kids left, we would probably be divorced,” the NBA legend added. “Now we’re so connected to each other, but it took that situation to bring us back. I’ve always told Cookie…,