Michael Jordan’s mom, Deloris Jordan, has been the bedrock of the family. Deloris watched her son become one of the most recognizable people in the world, but it was not always this way. She admitted there were times that she had to exercise tough love with Michael and recalled a parenting story to ESPN from when her son was just 12 years old.
“He tells me it would be considered child abuse today,” Deloris joked with ESPN. “But it was a tough age and I knew I had to set the precedent. I took him to work and made him stay in the car all day and read. I could see him from the bank window. I wanted him to know I was always watching him. We went to lunch, and then after dinner, I knew a lady at the library, so he stayed there and read some more. …We didn’t have any more trouble from him after that.”
Deloris is the best-selling author of a number of children’s books including Salt in His Shoes, Michael’s Golden Rules and Dream Big. She helped her son get involved in the community since early in his NBA career and now runs the James R. Jordan Foundation in honor of her late husband.
Learn more about Michael’s mother.
1. Jordan’s Mom Founded the James R. Jordan Foundation
According to WomensHistory.org, Deloris co-founded the Michael Jordan Foundation in 1989. After working with her son on this project for several years, his mom founded the James R. Jordan Foundation in 2000 as a way to honor his late father. Deloris serves as the president of the foundation that focuses on improving the lives of underprivileged children.
The James R. Foundation International was founded in 2009 with a number of partners including United States International University and Kenya’s Ministry of Health and Education. The organization launched the Kenya Women and Children’s Wellness Centre to improve the health of the region, reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and provide training to medical professionals. Deloris spoke about her motivation for working with young people during a 2007 NPR interview.
“Because, again, no matter what we do with the kids at school, they’re going home,” Deloris explained to NPR. “So we need to have, really, a partnership with the parents, works with the teacher – who’s total aware what’s going on. Life, family – those are the same thing – parents coming together as a husband and a wife providing strong values that when that child leaves your house, he can succeed. If it does not, it’s by his own choice.”
2. Deloris Is Featured on “The Last Dance” Documentary
One of the first episodes of “The Last Dance” features Deloris reading a letter that Michael wrote her while he was attending the University of North Carolina. Michael was writing to tell her that he needed money for his phone bill and stamps.
“You’re gonna see a lot of things that people forgot life was that way,” Michael noted on ABC’s Good Morning America. “The thing that people are going to learn, and my kids laugh about it when they see it, but we used postage stamps back in those days, you know. Where I had to ask my mom to send my postage stamps.”
3. Jordan’s Dad, James Sr., Was Murdered in July 1993
Michael’s father was tragically murdered in July 1993. James Sr. was sleeping at a rest stop in North Carolina when he was shot to death, per TMZ. His body was found 11 days after the murder in the water in South Carolina where it had been dumped off a bridge.
The Chicago Tribune reported that James Sr. spent the day at a funeral for a former co-worker and visited with friends later in the evening. Michael’s parents met at a high school basketball game in North Carolina, per WomensHistory.org. The couple was separated for a brief period of time after high school as Deloris attended a trade school in Alabama, while James Sr. enlisted in the Air Force.
The couple got married in 1957 and later gave birth to Michael’s older brother Ronnie Jordan. Years later, Ronnie was followed by four more children including Michael was born on February 17, 1963.
4. Deloris & James Were the Proud Parents of 5 Children
Michael came from a big family with four siblings: Larry, Deloris, Roslyn and James Jr. (also known as Ronnie). Deloris and James Sr. encouraged the kids to support each other. Michael may be the most well-known of her children, but Deloris emphasizes that all of her kids have unique talents.
“I always told my children, ‘Each one of you has special gifts, it’s how you use them,'” Deloris explained to ESPN. “Each one had a talent, but how they approached it was different from the others. Michael might have skills for basketball, but Larry built things with his hands, and our oldest son was in ROTC and such a leader.”
Michael grew up playing basketball and other sports against his siblings. His brother Larry admitted it became clear that Michael had a different level of talent on the basketball court than anyone else in the family.
“We played one year of varsity basketball together when I was a senior and Michael was a junior, and that’s when his play just went to another level,” Larry told ESPN. “Even though there were five guys on the floor, he pretty much played all five positions. His level of play was just so much higher than the rest of us. People ask me all the time if it bothered me, but I can honestly say no, because I had the opportunity to see him grow. I knew how hard he worked.”
5. Jordan’s Mom Kept all of His Old Letters Home
Like most proud mothers, Deloris held onto to a lot of Michael’s keepsakes as he grew older, including his letters home from college. During an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America, Michael admitted that the letters are now “somewhat embarrassing” but shows how much she cares for the family.
“My mom, she kept all my letters,” Michael told Good Morning America. “It’s somewhat embarrassing, but yet it’s refreshing that I took the time to write a letter to say how much I love my mom and, you know, what I needed in college.”