Zion Williamson’s parents, Sharonda Sampson and Lateef Anderson, along with Zion’s stepfather, Lee Anderson, have been with the Duke superstar since the start. Zion comes from an athletic family as his mother, Sharonda, ran track and his father, Lateef, played college football. Zion’s stepfather, Lee, also played basketball and worked with Zion to develop his game.
After announcing his commitment to Duke, Zion detailed what Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski told his family that convinced him to go to Durham.
“When Coach K came to my house and spoke to me and my family, it wasn’t just about basketball and what he could do for me in one year,” Zion noted to Go Upstate. “It was how he can build Zion as a brand on and off the court for like the next 20 years or the rest of my life.”
When Zion is not on the basketball court, he enjoys watching cartoons with his mother.
“He’s a mama’s boy and when we get time alone he’ll come over and we’ll watch the cartoon called Naruto,” Sampson said, per Deadspin. “I don’t know what that is, but we’ll sit around and we’ll watch that. So, yeah, you don’t know that about him.”
Learn more about Zion’s parents.
1. Zion Admitted to Crying in His Mother’s Arms After Injuring His Knee Against North Carolina
Zion’s mother is his rock and provided encouragement to her son when he could not go back into the game against North Carolina. The initial Duke-UNC game was billed as one of the biggest college basketball games in years with celebrities in attendance like former President Barack Obama and Spike Lee. After Duke won the ACC tournament, Zion detailed how much he wanted to go back in the game.
“I was sitting there, on the training table,” Zion explained to North State Journal. “The game was on. My mom walks in, and I broke down. I’d been thinking about that game for so long. … I just cried in her arms. She told me that everything happens for a reason. She told me I’d be back.”
2. Zion’s Stepfather Played Basketball at Clemson
Prior to Zion’s commitment to Duke, Clemson was a heavy favorite to land the big man. According to 247 Sports, their prediction gave Clemson an 85 percent chance to sign Zion. The school had family ties with Zion’s stepfather playing at Clemson.
“They did everything right,” Lee told Tiger Net. “It’s nothing against the coaches. Nothing against them at all. I told Clemson when they came in the other night, ‘Somewhere along the way, you all had a mile and a half lead on the situation. I don’t know what happened along the way but you all had a big distance.’ The next thing I know I hear Zion saying South Carolina and North Carolina and Duke is inching closer. I was like, ‘Woah.’ I don’t think it was anything they did that was wrong. They recruited him hard. They recruited him fair. They were selling Clemson and I thought they did a great job. I think it was a serious point for them to recruit the way they did and they showed Zion they were serious about wanting his services.”
According to Sports Reference, Lee played for the Tigers from 1975 to 1978 but averaged just 1.6 minutes per game.
3. Zion’s Mom Ran Track at Livingstone College
Zion’s mother is also an athlete and ran track at Livingstone College. According to the Charlotte Observer, Sharonda is a middle school teacher. Zion’s rise to fame surprised even his parents.
“Sometimes it doesn’t dawn on you as parents,” Sharonda explained to the Charlotte Observer. “But all the time, when he was growing up playing, he stood out among his peers. When you have elderly people come to watch and they don’t know who you are, and they’re saying this boy will be special and we’ll see him on TV, you start to think there may be something to this.”
4. Zion Has a Younger Brother, Noah, Who Once Fell Asleep in His Stepfather’s Arms While He Was Coaching an AAU Game
Zion has a younger brother, Noah, who the Duke star is close with. Back in 2017, Noah fell asleep in Zion’s stepfather’s arms as he coached an AAU game. USA Today detailed the moment that went viral.
Noah is Zion Williamson’s 3-year-old half-brother. Noah managed to sleep through all the hoopla in the arms of dad Lee Anderson, who was coaching SC Supreme at the time.
Noah’s ability to snooze despite the noise and overflow crowd did not go unnoticed on social media.
5. Yahoo Sports Reported Adidas Rep Merl Code Asked Kansas For Housing for Zion’s Family During His Recruitment
Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel reported that there is an audio recording between Adidas rep Merl Code and Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend discussing the recruitment of Zion. The tape was not allowed into evidence during the trial involving former agent Christian Dawkins along with Adidas executives so there is “limited context to it,” per Yahoo Sports.
Yahoo Sports provided an overview of the recorded conversation where the Adidas rep was essentially asking for benefits for Zion’s family.
In a taped conversation that was not allowed into evidence today, Adidas’ Merl Code and Kansas asst Kurtis Townsend discuss the recruitment of Zion Williamson, who wound up at Duke. In arguing for admission, a transcript was read by Code defense atty Mark Moore.
Code: “Hey, but between me and you, he asked about some stuff … I know what he’s asking for. He’s asking for opportunities from an occupational perspective, he’s asking for cash in the pocket and he’s asking for housing for him and his family.”
Kurtis Townsend: “I’ve got to just try to work and figure out a way because if that’s what it takes to get him here for 10 months, we’re going to have to do it some way.”
Because it was denied into evidence, there is limited context to it.