A lot has happened in Robyn Dixon's life since last season of The Real Housewives of Potomac. We'll of course get an update when the new season of RHOP premieres on Sunday, April 2 at 9/8c, but her family got a major surprise last year when her ex-husband, Juan Dixon, met the biological father he didn't know even existed.
The Baltimore Sun broke the story last November that Juan had found his biological father, Bruce Flanigan, last year after thinking his dad Phil Dixon, the man he grew up with his whole life, was his biological father. "Isn't that amazing? It's still so weird," Robyn recently told The Daily Dish about the discovery. "They talk a lot, and his [biological] father's a really great guy. He's so nice. I'm like, damn, it sucks that he missed out on that experience, but it's great."
As Juan led the University of Maryland's men's basketball team to victory in the NCAA national championship in 2002, he gained acclaim for his skills on the court. But viewers were also captivated by his personal story of losing both of his parents, Phil and Juanita Dixon, to AIDS the year he turned 17. When Bruce saw Juan playing for the Terps on TV in his first season at Maryland, he knew he was his son, he told The Baltimore Sun.
Bruce explained to the newspaper that he and Juan's mom had dated in the early '70s when they were in high school. The two ended their relationship, and Juanita began dating Phil, whom she would eventually marry. Though there were always some murmurs among Bruce's and Juan's families that Phil wasn't Juan's biological father, Juanita never confirmed it — even when asked by Bruce, who had long thought Juan was his son, and Juan himself. In fact, Juan was told, "Don't go there" by his mom when he questioned why he didn't look like his father like his older brother did, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Bruce even ran into Juan once at a department store in Towson, Maryland when his son was in college, and he told him he knew his mother in high school. However, Bruce told The Baltimore Sun that he didn't share that he thought he was Juan's father because he "didn't want to interfere with his career."
Robyn said she had heard about this rumor many years ago after a high school friend, PJ, who is also Bruce's cousin, brought it up with her brother. Robyn said that she "brushed it off" at the time because she thought her brother was referring to Juan's brother, Jermaine Dixon, who has a different biological father who is still alive. "I was like, no way. It wasn't even a possibility. I'm just like, 'No, I think he's confused. I think he's talking about Jermaine,'" Robyn told The Daily Dish. "I didn't pursue it anymore. I just brushed it off. Juan never questioned who his real father was. He never doubted that the man who he thought was his father was his father."
This past summer, Robyn's brother brought up the subject again as the two discussed a similar situation where someone had met their biological father as an adult. "For some reason, at that moment, I don't know why, it just stood out to me at that time. I immediately said to Juan, 'Juan, my brother said that PJ said that your real father is still alive and you have a different father than your siblings,'" Robyn explained. "And something went off in Juan's head at that moment. He said, 'You know what? I remember my mother saying to me when I was young, I was probably around 8, 9 years old, I remember my mother say to me, "You're not supposed to be here. You were not supposed to happen."' Just me bringing up that might not be your real father triggered that memory where he remembers his mother almost telling him but not telling him. And then we just kind of start looking into it, and here we are today, a whole new family."
Soon, Juan called Bruce up on the phone, and they agreed to meet the next day in person. They had not yet taken the DNA test that confirmed their relation. "But as soon as we saw Bruce, his dad, I was like, 'Oh my God. This man is like your spitting image.' They look so much alike. But it was also the joy and the warmth that came from Bruce that made us feel so at ease," Robyn gushed. "You know, this could have gone one of two ways. It could have gone really bad where Juan could have maybe been angry or mad and said, 'I don't want anything to do with you.' Or his father could've ended up being not a nice guy or not a good person. Whatever it might be. It could have gone another way. But as soon as we saw him and felt his energy and his spirit, we just felt like, 'Wow, this is a great thing.'"
The reunion was an emotional experience for Juan. "They immediately hugged. And Juan was very emotional. Juan is an emotional person. So he's very emotional, crying. It was a lot to process at once, but we knew in our hearts that it was a good thing because we could tell he was a good man, and he was very sincere about wanting to be a father to Juan," Robyn said. "He wants to really be a part of Juan's life. So it was amazing."
If you check out some photos of this father-and-son pair in that Baltimore Sun article, you will see that Juan really does look so much like Bruce. But Robyn admitted that Bruce's shorter stature compared to Juan's (Bruce is about five-foot-eight, and Juan is six-foot-two), threw her off a little bit when they first met.
But Bruce was a basketball star himself at Southwestern High School in Baltimore, and that's just one of the crazy similarities between him and Juan. "Christmastime came and he brought gifts for my children [sons Corey, 8, and Carter, 7], he had given them some type of gift card or whatever. So I look at the envelope, and the craziest thing was that his handwriting, Bruce's handwriting, was exactly like Juan's handwriting," Robyn shared. "I was like, 'Wow. This is freaky.' It seems like they never spent any time together, but their handwriting is exactly the same."
Juan, Bruce, and Robyn recently appeared in the latest episode of HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel to recount this amazing story.
Robyn said that Juan has gained so much from getting to know Bruce over just the past few months after living the majority of his life without having his parents there to be with him through the highs and the lows. "We've known each other since we were 16, and so I could always feel that void from him where, he wasn't unhappy, but you could definitely feel a void where he was missing his parents or missing those two people who have your back unconditionally, you can go to them whenever you need something or for advice or money or just a shoulder to cry on, and he didn't have that," Robyn explained. "So knowing that he has that now, I think, is just so beautiful."
Just being able to have someone with him to do something as simple as take a drive somewhere has been incredibly meaningful for Juan, Robyn said. "He always saw me and my mom and my parents and how involved my parents are in my life, and he always admired that," she added. "And now, he can experience that himself where he has that one person where, although they just met, he has shown him so much love, and I think it's only gonna continue to grow and get better. I think it'll help so much just for Juan as a person and to a father with his own kids."
We'll see more of Robyn, Juan, and their family when RHOP returns for Season 2 on Sunday, April 2 at 9/8c. Get a sneak peek of the fun and drama to come, below.
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