*Magic Johnson is speaking out about his iconic basketball career and his HIV diagnosis in a joint interview with his wife Cookie.
The couple opened up about the impact the diagnosis had on their relationship in an interview with Gayle King that aired Thursday on CBS Mornings.
“It was hard because I loved her so much and I hated to hurt her,” Magic told King. “I’ve played against some of the best basketball players in the world, right? I’ve been in championships. I’ve been in nine [NBA] Finals, so I know pressure. But there was no greater pressure than driving home to tell her.”
Magic and Cookie had been married just over a month, and she was pregnant when Los Angeles Lakers team doctor Micahel Mellman informed him of his HIV diagnosis in 1991.
“The key moment was when Cookie took the test and the results came back that her and the baby was fine,” the retired NBA star told King.
“I was scared to death,” he added. “I wanted to make sure that she was gonna be OK, the baby was gonna be OK, and then I could move forward with trying to make sure I was gonna be OK.”
“I had to really learn a lot about the disease, HIV as well as AIDS. I had to make sure that I was open-minded enough to ask a lot of questions, go get a lot of information from different people,” he said.
Cookie admits that she initially did not want Magic to reveal his diagnosis during the Nov. 7, 1991 news conference because of the stigma surrounding AIDS at the time.
“At that time, people weren’t educated. So they thought you couldn’t touch people, you couldn’t hug people,” she said. “And I didn’t want people to treat us like we were lepers.”
Cookie wore white for the press conference, where she appeared on stage with her husband for his announcement.
“I wore that white suit for a reason. I didn’t want to wear anything dark or black because to me, it’s what it symbolized. And the white suit, to me, symbolized brightness, like a future basically [and] positivity.”
Magic’s HIV is currently undetectable, but he still must take a drug “cocktail once a day” to help keep it under control.