How Magic Johnson's Son EJ Inspired Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union's Journey With Zaya

Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade reflected on how Magic Johnson and Cookie Johnson’s example as parents to son EJ inspired them when raising Zaya Wade.

By Kelly Gilmore Apr 22, 2022 11:33 PMTags
Watch: Gabrielle Union & Dwyane Wade Celebrate Zaya's 14th Birthday

Magic Johnson is not just leading a legacy on the court, but also in the hearts of Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade.

In an April 21 interview with Entertainment Tonight, Gabrielle and Dwyane touched on how Cookie Johnson and Magic's actions as parents to their son EJ Johnson—who publicly came out as gay in 2013—helped shape their journey with Zaya Wade, 14, who publicly came out as transgender in 2020.

"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," Gabrielle shared. "They were the first people we called, 'OK, we're moving to L.A., what school do you guys think is the best school for Zaya?' And they gave us the blueprint."

Dwyane also feels that Magic served as an idol for him as a parent.

"When I seen a Black man, a professional athlete, stand up proud of his child, no matter what they're doing in life, just being proud of who they are and who they've come to be," Dwyane said, "it makes it easier for me to say, 'I saw one of my idols do it, a big brother, I can do the same.'"

Zaya Wade's Cutest Family Pictures

Reflecting on their own experience, Magic explained to ET that accepting EJ came as second nature.

"We've always been people who try to do the right thing and do the thing we were supposed to do," Magic said. "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.'"

Magic feels that inspiring Dwyane and Gabrielle is yet another "blessing."

"So, thank God we have influenced people, whether it's on the court, off the court and just in our everyday walking life," Magic shared. "If we've done that, then we have been a blessing."

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Back in February 2020, Gabrielle took to Instagram and Twitter to introduce the world to Zaya.

"Meet Zaya," Gabrielle wrote. "She's compassionate, loving, whip smart and we are so proud of her. It's Ok to listen to, love & respect your children exactly as they are. Love and light good people."

The post included a video of Zaya and Dwyane riding in a golf cart, where she shared an empowering message.

"[For those who] are afraid they will be judged, I would say don't even think about that. Just be true to yourself because what's the point of being on this Earth if you're going to try and be someone you're not?" Zaya said in the video. "It's like you're not even living as yourself, which is the dumbest concept to me. Be true and don't really care what the stereotypical way of being you is."

That same day, Dwyane made an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to speak about how he and Gabrielle are "proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community" and proud allies as well.

Dwyane said he remembered the moment Zaya came to them with a request to "live my truth."

He recalled his response: "I looked at her and said, ‘You are our leader. You are our leader and this is our opportunity to allow you to be a voice.'"