Magic Johnson's wife, Cookie Johnson, stuck by his side following his shocking contraction of HIV in 1991. The Hall of Fame point guard was forced into an early retirement at just 31 years old, fresh off of his ninth NBA Finals appearance in 12 seasons with the LA Lakers.
Upon finding out that his illness wouldn't worsen, Magic joined the 'Dream Team' for the 1992 Olympics. That experience gave him the itch to return to the Lakers, leading Cookie to give him an ultimatum.
During a press conference, Johnson shared some insight on his discussions with his wife, stating:
“My wife told me, ‘That’s it, one [season] and get out’ or she’ll leave me. Cookie always told me I was coming back, ‘no way you’re working out three times a day and you’re not coming back, you can’t tell me.' I said, ‘you haven’t given me your okay yet' so I bribed her. I gave her a million dollars.”
His wife interjected to note:
"It was a lot more than that."
Magic Johnson finally returned to the LA Lakers for 32 games in the 1995-1996 season at the age of 36 after missing four seasons. The five-time NBA champion averaged 14.6 points per game, 5.7 rebounds per game, and 6.9 assists per game. In his career, the three-time NBA MVP averaged 19.5 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game and an NBA-record 11.2 assists per game.
Watch Magic Johnson's highlights below:
Who is Magic Johnson's wife, Cookie Johnson?
Magic Johnson and his wife, Cookie, met in 1978 as college students at Michigan State University. Cookie graduated with a bachelor's degree in Textile and Clothing. Despite meeting him in 1978, Cookie didn't become Magic Johnson's wife until 1991. Aside from being married to the NBA legend, Cookie is an author, clothing designer, and entrepreneur. She is also on the board of directors of the Magic Johnson Foundation, which she co-founded with the LA Lakers star.
Check out Magic Johnson's Instagram post celebrating 30 years of marriage to Cookie Johnson:
Magic Johnson's wife discusses how she found out that he contracted HIV
Much of the world was shocked when Magic Johnson revealed that he had contracted HIV. At the time, the virus was thought of as a death sentence and many feared the worst for the LA Lakers star. He has shared that his wife, Cookie, helped him maintain his strength to fight the virus. She shared her perspective with Good Morning America's Robin Roberts, stating:
"It scared me to death. I mean, I fell to my knees. We both fell on our knees and we started crying. He said, 'if you want to leave, you know, I don't blame you. It's okay. I understand.' Then I said, 'are you kidding me? No. I love you. I'm gonna stay here and help you live. I'm gonna stay here and we're gonna beat this thing. We're gonna figure out how to beat this thing."
Watch Magic Johnson's wife discuss finding out about his HIV diagnosis below: