E:60 profile reveals rarely seen sides of TNT’s Ernie Johnson

Ernie Johnson tends to his son Michael in a scene from E:60's profile of the TNT host.
Ernie Johnson tends to his son Michael in a scene from E:60’s profile of the TNT host.

E:60, ESPN’s award-winning news magazine show, presents a two-part profile of TNT’s “Inside The NBA” host Ernie Johnson (both parts airing Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN). The feature – E:60’s first profile of a media personality – will cover various topics including his father, former major league pitcher and acclaimed broadcaster, the late Ernie Johnson Sr., his battle with cancer and more.

Johnson and his wife Cheryl have four adopted children, including Michael who was born with a progressive form of muscular dystrophy and lives on a ventilator in his parents’ home. With Jeremy Schaap reporting, E:60 explores a very personal and revealing profile of a man who has – as his colleague Charles Barkley said – “uncommon courage and a pure heart.”

E:60 feature producer Dan Lindberg provides Front Row an inside look at this profile.

E:60's production crew (L-R) pose with Michael Johnson (center): Greg Ellis, Dan Lindberg, Logan Cascia and Bill Roach. (Photo courtesy Dan Lindberg/ESPN)
E:60’s production crew (L-R) pose with Michael Johnson (center): Greg Ellis, Dan Lindberg, Logan Cascia and Bill Roach.
(Photo courtesy Dan Lindberg/ESPN)

What are you hoping viewers take away from this piece?
I hope they see a wonderful father who also happens to have a very high profile television job.

What was the most challenging aspect of putting this profile together?
I have been telling people since I started filming with Ernie in 2014 that he is a special person. His story is something that is also special, but he doesn’t do the things he does for accolades or attention. He and his family simply have good hearts. When a person is that genuine, you need to make sure that comes across on screen and sometimes that can be a very difficult thing to do.

What behind-the-scenes aspect didn’t make it into the overall profile?
When we went to film a family dinner – and because Ernie and his wife, Cheryl were not going to let us leave until we put our gear down and sat down with them – Cheryl had remembered from an earlier shoot that one of our cameraman has celiac disease and needs to eat gluten-free.

Of the 15 people she was feeding that night, which included preparing and making five lasagnas – she also took the time to make a sixth, gluten-free lasagna for our colleague. It may not sound like much, but they never saw us as crew members who were working, they just saw and treated us as guests in their home. And Cheryl can cook!

  • Michael Lee

    Incredible profile on a great man.

  • John G

    Ernie…just watched your story. Amongst the MANY aspects of the show I wanted to say that while your son Michael was fortunate to have YOU as a dad…I get the feeling that YOU feel even more fortunate to have Michael a a SON !!!
    Ernie….you truly are a ROLE MODEL !!!!

  • Charlie Syphrett

    You and your family are one in a million. That kind of love and compassion is what God smiles on with great love. May your family’s future be bright and full of his grace.

  • This was such a moving story to watch. He is truly an unsung hero. He also gave his award he won this year to Stuart Scott without hestitation. This man is humble and a good man through and through. I never saw this side and I have gained so much respect for him. If there is someone you want to become when you grow up he is that someone. Bless him and his beautiful family.

  • Tom Smolko

    Just saw the E60 with Ernie and Michael. Ernie you are an angel walking on earth, I was brought to tears seeing how you care for not only Michael but for everyone in your family. I’ve watched you many years reporting the sports but never knew what a GIANT among men you are. My respect for you went from 100% to 100,000% Bless you and your whole family

  • Tara

    Just finished watching your story and was touched and inspired by you and your family. I grew up with a brother that had duchenne muscular dystrophy. Just like your son Michael, my brother was an incredible person that touched many lives. He was an inspiration to all of us & taught me many valuable lessons that still affect my life today (even though he passed away when I was 10 yrs. old). I am so glad that you shared your story. I was especially touched by the strength of your family. Now that I am a mother myself, I realized how difficult it must have been for my mom to care for all of us and my brother as well. But, she did it, and I have wonderful memories of my childhood. You, Michael, and the rest of your family are an inspiration to all! Thank you for sharing your story & may God continue to bless your family.

  • Phillip Ellison

    Eanie, I watched your film about you and your family, My grandson has been diagnosed with this recently and I am in disbelief because he looks acts and does everything normal. He will be 2 in March and they say we won’t see the effects for a few years. How do we explain to him this? How do you cope with He’s normal to having to one day be in a wheel chair? I can hardly even discuss this without breaking down. I can’t even begin to understand any of it. You are a great man for all that you do!!!! I understand your children are adopted and I know you love them just the same for my youngest son is adopted and I am very homered to be his Dad!!! I hope you can read this, Again I think you are a great man for all you do!!!