Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade are inspiring parents, but Union says another star and his family helped show them the way. The Cheaper by the Dozen actress shares Kaavia James, 3, with Wade — who is also dad to Zaire, 20, and Zaya, 14, with Siohvaughn Funches, and Zavier Zechariah, 8, with Aja Metoyer.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight on Thursday, Union credits former NBA legend Magic Johnson, and his wife, Cookie, for showing them how to love “equally and out loud.”
“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,” Union said. “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. And literally, every step of the way, in my career, in his career, they have been there.”
Johnson, whose new Apple TV+ docuseries They Call Me Magic premiered today, is dad to Andre, 41, with Melissa Mitchell, and EJ, 29, and Elisa, 27, with Cookie. Part of the docuseries addresses when EJ publicly came out as gay in 2013.
“We’ve always been people who try to do the right thing and do the thing we were supposed to do,” Johnson told ET. “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.”
When Wade’s daughter, Zaya, came out as transgender in 2020, Johnson said he was proud of being able to help Union and Wade by showing them how to support your kids. “And then because of that, Dwyane and Gabs said, ‘Oh man, look at that,’” Johnson added. “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.”
Wade told ET, “We got an opportunity to see EJ and Zaya embrace. As a father, to see all of our kids embrace, and understand that they’re on journeys that are different than our journey. They all are. And to see them embrace and see them be all like, ‘Yo, whatever you need, I got you. I’m here.’ To me, that’s like what Magic and Cookie have been to us as adults. And to see EJ do the same thing to Zaya, it was amazing.”
He continued, “That moment, 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, it makes it easier for me to say, ‘I saw one of my idols do it, a big brother, I can do the same.'”
Johnson’s new docuseries addresses how he initially struggled when EJ came out at 17. In an interview with Variety, Johnson said, “When you grow up in team sports, you’re thinking, ‘Is he gonna play sports?’ And then when I saw that he liked dolls and to play dress-up … ‘What are you doing?’”
EJ said about his dad, “He’s not somebody who works great being cornered or surprised. It was a lot for him to swallow. A lot of going back and forth.”
But a few months after EJ visited his son at college at NYU, Johnson had a change of heart. “He hugged me so hard — he was, like, squeezing all the air out of me,” EJ told Variety. “That’s when I knew, there’s nothing but love here.”
“He changed me,” Johnson told Variety about EJ. “He was so proud. This dude here is just so proud of who he is.”
He added, “As I grew older, as my wife talked to me, I couldn’t [judge EJ]. I had to accept who he was and who he wanted to be. He actually helped me get there. Because he was so proud. Cookie said, ‘Look in the mirror.’ I said, ‘You’re right.’ Because I’m proud of who I am. And he got it from me.”
What two beautiful examples of loving and supporting your kids’ decisions to be who they want to be!
These celebrity LGBTQ+ families are proving that love is love.