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Earlier this week NBA Hall Of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr.s son, Earvin III (also known as EJ), came out to the world as a gay man. Although the reaction on the Internets was mixed at times, the former Los Angeles Lakers standout is standing firm in support of his son. Johnson also expressed thoughts on gay athletes coming out and feeling safe to do so. 

TMZ sat with Johnson for an exclusive recorded interview where he spoke on how he and wife, Cookie, approached EJ, a 20-year-old student at New York University, and rallied behind him as he became comfortable with coming out.

“We’ve known for a long, long time that my son EJ was gay,” said Johnson, who found out when EJ was 13. “It’s interesting when you’re his parents, and we finally had to sit down and talk about it. And I told him ‘I’m gonna love you regardless, just let me know, are you or aren’t you?’ and then finally he said ‘yes, I am.’”

Johnson and his wife knew that EJ wasn’t comfortable in going to his parents, so Magic took the bold step of addressing the issue. Johnson expressed the reasons why he wanted EJ to open up was to help him and also protect his son. Johnson credited TMZ for initially reporting on EJ’s coming out and making it easier for the family to speak openly.

Johnson also addressed comments of anti-gay bloggers and writers who criticized EJ and Johnson. He also called his son a “symbol of hope” for young African-Americans to be comfortably with their s-xual orientation.  Kobe Bryant also backed the Johnson family, and there was also a discussion about the possibility of athletes shedding fear and living openly gay as well.

Check out the video interview below.

Photo: Corbis