Ndamukong Suh’s parents, Michael and Bernadette, came to the United States from Cameroon and Jamaica, respectively. Michael Suh came from royalty in Cameroon, according to an interview Suh gave with The Miami Herald, and played professional soccer in Germany before moving to the United States.
Suh often describes his family and his heritage as driving factors for his motivation in the sport of football and in his life in general. To The Miami Herald, Suh said, “A lot of that self-awareness comes from not only my family, which is my mom, my dad and my older sister and seeing so much of myself in them. I look at them and can see where I fit in and what pieces I’ve pulled from my parents. But truly I equate it to my friends…The combination of my family and that small group of friends, the honesty and transparency that comes from there, that’s where the awareness comes from.”
Suh also said that his father taught him about “the rule of three” when dealing with people who are treating you poorly. He explained, “My dad has always given me the rule of three. The first and second time, you have to be the adult. But that third time somebody comes after you, then at that point in time you do what you have to do.”
Here’s what you need to know about Suh’s parents:
Suh’s Parents, Michael & Bernadette, Met in Portland & Had Two Children
According to an archived article from The Sporting News, Suh’s father, Michael Suh, left his home country of Cameroon and went to play soccer in Germany for several years before finally moving to the United States and settling in Portland, Oregon. Suh’s mother, Bernadette, came to the U.S. from Jamaica and also settled in Portland, and the two eventually met and were married.
Per the publication, the Suhs first had a daughter, Ngum, before having their son, Ndamukong. Suh often posts about his sister and his parents, writing in one Instagram post, “Happy Father’s Day to the man who helped me become the man I am today! I couldn’t imagine a life without you. love you Dad!”
Suh’s father, Michael, told The Sporting News that Suh played soccer as a young child, but that he was so big he often got into trouble without intending to. He said,
“Once, when he was about 7 or 8, he was playing a soccer match with another team. Four kids from the other team came to him. He had the ball. They all bounced off of him and fell back. He took the ball and struck it, and it went right into the goal. The coach from the other team got so mad. He took his team and left the field. He thought maybe he fouled these kids. The referee asked him, ‘How can one kid foul four kids?’ “
Suh’s sister, Ngum, has an athletic streak as well: Suh pointed out her soccer award in one of his Instagram posts, writing, “Congrats to my Big Sis @ngumsuh for being the first women’s ⚽️ soccer player inducted into the Grant HS Hall of Fame!
Thank you for always being my motivation and inspiration ? #foe #suhsquad”
To The Sporting News, Suh explained how his background has informed his professional aspirations. He said, “I definitely don’t want to be another defensive tackle on the shelf. I want to be something that’s different. I like being different. That’s one of the things that I’m so happy (with) about myself. I’m different- I’m African, I’m Jamaican, I’m American.”
To The Miami Herald in 2017, Suh explained how his parents’ cultural mix affected him growing up. Suh said,
“It’s heavily affected me in all positive ways. Seeing them growing up and understanding and having been to both those countries and seeing how they grew up gives you great pride and at the same time understanding about how hard you need to work. I understand how hard it was for them to get here, how hard they worked to get here. I saw the work ethic. It’s a pride thing but the biggest thing for me is culture — seeing how their culture is, how you carry yourself and approach things from a different perspective.
People have the notion of American kids taking the easy way because everything’s kind of given to them. I look at myself as an American, without question, being born here and reaping the benefits of being an American. But at the same time I look at myself as a Cameroonian, as a Jamaican and so that combination of all three of those is what I embody — the drive, focus, determination of all of them.”
Ndamukong Suh’s Girlfriend, Katya Leick, Went Public With Their Relationship Last May
Though Suh is more quiet about his private life, Leick’s instagram reveals a bevy of photographs of the couple. 27-year-old Leick posted her first Instagram of Suh last May, and has consistently documented their relationship ever since.
According to her LinkedIn, Leick is a real estate agent in the central Los Angeles area. She has worked for Compass since July, and prior to that she was working at Keller Williams.