UPDATE: Just this week, Juan Dixon has been named the head coach for the men’s basketball team at Coppin State University in his home town of Baltimore, Maryland.
Long before he was an estranged husband on Bravo’s Real Housewives of Potomac, Juan Dixon was a talented basketball player who had a rough childhood in Baltimore, losing both of his parents, Phil and Juanita Dixon, before his 17th birthday. His mother and the man he thought was his father died within 16 months of each other of AIDS-related illnesses after living the lives of drug addicts, infected by dirty needles. But what Juan Dixon didn’t know then, was that Phil Dixon wasn’t his biological father, and with the help of RHOP Robyn Dixon, he has developed a relationship with Bruce Flanigan, a retired Baltimore County corrections officer, and the man a blood test has proven is Juan’s biological father.
Juan Dixon was one of two estranged husbands on RHOP who made a living in basketball as players and coaches, and last season, both Juan Dixon and Eddie Jordan were let go from their jobs, says the Inquisitr. Juan Dixon was released from his coaching position at University of Maryland, his alma mater, through no fault of his own, but he has now moved on to coaching basketball at Coppin State. Eddie Jordan was fired from Rutgers after another losing season, and has not found a replacement position. The two men knew each other before RHOP, as Eddie Jordan coached the Washington Wizards, and Juan Dixon played for the Wizards.
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Juan Dixon grew up the middle child of Phil and Juanita Dixon, with an older brother and a younger sister, who remembers waiting in the car while his parents went into seemingly abandoned buildings to buy drugs. His childhood was never predictable, as his home was a place where his parents shot up, and there were always dirty needles around.
By the time Juan Dixon was recruited to play on what is thought of as perhaps the best Maryland Terps team of all time, he had buried his parents, and was living with his grandparents, and finishing up high school at the all boys school, Calvert Hall in Baltimore County. At the time his parents died, he was already dating his future wife, RHOP Robyn Dixon, who he met while she was at the McDonogh School, also in Baltimore County.
Juan Dixon was best known as part of the starting Terps team that finally brought home a NCAA championship to the College Park campus. But while he was doing press, headed to that championship game, the press continued to ask him about his parents, and how his past helped him make it to the top of the ladder in college basketball.
“It made me stronger. I’m not going to say it didn’t make me stronger. To get through something like that, you’ve got to be a strong individual. But I don’t think about it that much.”
But of course, Juan Dixon wished that his parents could see him succeeding.
“I wish I could have my parents here to see how far I’ve come, but unfortunately they’re not here. So I’m just going to go out there and have fun. I’m having fun with everything. My mom and dad would want me to have fun right now, and I’m out there just having a lot of fun and enjoying the chance.”
But Juan Dixon also gives a lot of credit to his brother, Phil Dixon, himself a former Division III basketball player, who then became a Baltimore police officer. Juan Dixon wore No. 3 at Maryland, because his brother was No. 3 at Shenandoah (Va.) College. On his left arm, Juan Dixon has a tattoo that says “Only the Strong Survive,” and in the world of college basketball, that was Juan Dixon.
So, imagine Juan and Robyn Dixon’s surprise when they found out last August that Phil Dixon was not Juan’s biological father, and that the man who was his birth father was still alive, and living in the Baltimore area. Juan reportedly had looked at the relationship that coach Mark Turgeon of the University of Maryland had with his father, who often traveled with the team, and was envious, wondering what it would have been like to have a father still in his life, and with the discovery that Bruce Flanigan was truly his father, he says, now he does.
Bruce Flanigan had been a boyfriend of Juan’s mother, Juanita, and had long thought he might be Juan’s father. Juan said that he remembered asking his mom why his brother Phil looked so much like their father, and he didn’t. He said that his mom would shut him down with three simple words.
“Don’t go there.”
Juanita Dixon and Bruce Flanigan had met when they were both in high school, where Bruce was a basketball star. Years later, the first time Flanigan saw Juan Dixon play basketball, he knew Juan was his son.
“I knew his name and the first time I saw him play, I said, ‘That’s my son.’ He reminded me so much of myself. … It was like we could have been twins.”
But Bruce Flanigan said that he never approached Juan then, because he didn’t want to mess with his career. But Baltimore, though a city, is a small town, and someone in Bruce’s family knew Robyn Dixon’s brother, Marc Marcel, who then told his sister, Robyn of RHOP, about Bruce Flanigan.
“When my brother said something to me, I brushed it off, assuming he was talking about Juan’s younger brother, Jermaine, who has a different father.”
But last year, the connection was made, as Marc mentioned it again to Robyn, who finally talked to Juan about it.
“It triggered a memory in what his mother had said to him. Then we started trying to find out a little bit more.”
Though the two men have since taken a blood test, Juan knew at their first meeting that Bruce was his father.
“I saw his demeanor. I looked at Robyn and said, ‘That’s my dad.’ It’s crazy. I appreciated everything my father did for me, but this is my real dad.”
Juan Dixon now calls Bruce “pops,” and the two are in almost daily communication.
Are you surprised that RHOP Robyn Dixon’s estranged husband, Juan Dixon, had such a hard childhood?
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]