‘NBA on TNT’ Host Ernie Johnson Opens Up About Late Son’s Adoption Story

by Keeli Parkey

Recent days have been a time for mourning for “NBA on TNT” host Ernie Johnson and his family. Johnson’s son, Michael, passed away on Friday, Oct. 29.

Michael was only 33 years old at the time of his death. He had suffered from Duchenne muscular dystrophy during his life. This medical condition leads to severe respiratory issues.

Ernie Johnson and his wife, Cheryl, adopted Michael from Romania, according to TODAY. He became part of the Johnson family in 1991. He was only 3 years old at the time. In the years that followed, Johnson talked about their adoption story. He also talked about what a blessing Michael was to their family.

Soon after Michael’s recent passing, “NBA on TNT” shared footage of Johnson talking about adopting his son. The popular basketball television show shared Johnson’s words in a tweet on Nov. 2. His comments came from a speech he gave during 2019.

“When we decided to add to our family through adoption, (Cheryl) went to Romania having no idea what was going to happen, who she was going to bring back, if anybody she was going to bring back. We wanted to give some kid a chance that he didn’t have or she didn’t have,” the “NBA on TNT” host shared.

It was there that Cheryl met Michael for the first time. In fact, Michael was the very first child Cheryl had the opportunity to meet. Ernie Johnson also said that the story his wife was told about the young boy was that he had been discovered alone in a park as a baby. That was the only time Michael had ever been outside. At 3 years old, he could not talk or walk.

When Talking About His Son, Ernie Johnson of the ‘NBA on TNT’ Said ‘There Is Value Inside Everybody’

Cheryl asked about Michael, but an employee of the orphanage encouraged her to choose another child to adopt. “You know what she said to Cheryl? ‘Don’t take this boy, he’s no good,'” Ernie Johnson also said.

Cheryl called her husband and explained the situation. “I remember what my wife said on the phone was that this guy’s so much more than we can handle, but I can’t imagine going through the rest of my life wondering what happened to that blonde-haired boy in that orphanage,” the “NBA on TNT” host also recalled.

The Johnsons decided to make Michael a part of their family. It was only after he came to live with him in the United States that he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Of course, the Johnsons made certain that he received the best care. Michael used a ventilator to breathe and a wheelchair.

He wasn’t just loved by his family. For example, his fellow students at his Georgia high school also loved him. He was popular for saying, “Love you, too,” to others.

“(Michael) had done more through that point in his life and impacted more folks than I could ever hope to, because there is value inside everybody,” Ernie Johnson also said in 2019. “May not be able to do things the way we all do it, may have a different strength, a different weakness and that kind of thing, but there is always value. Find it.”