Sports is in Klay Thompson‘s blood as the Golden State Warriors player grew up the son of two great athletes. His father is Mychal Thompson, who played in the NBA and won two championships, and his mother is Julie Thompson, a college volleyball and track star. Thompson also grew up with two brothers who would both go on to become professional athletes.
Here’s what you need to know about Klay Thompson’s parents and family:
1. Klay Thompson’s Father Mychal Thompson Is a 2-Time NBA Champion Who Now Works as a Radio Broadcaster for the Los Angeles Lakers
Thompson’s father is no stranger to an NBA court as he is a two-time NBA champ who now works in broadcasting. Mychal Thompson was born on January 30, 1955, in Nassau, Bahamas, his foundation’s website states. He began playing locally in his home country until he was recruited to move to Miami and play there. The 6’10” center played at the University of Minnesota from 1975 to 1978 and was picked first by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1978 NBA Draft, his college bio states.
He told the Los Angeles Times that when he was in his 20s, he had dreams of returning to the Bahamas and running for prime minister, but instead, he focused on basketball. Despite that, he continued to return to his country of birth to promote the development of basketball and he was honored with his name being put to a street, the “Mychal Thompson Boulevard,” which leads to Nassau’s renowned Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre.
Mychal Thompson played with Portland for eight seasons before ending up with the Los Angeles Lakers (via the San Antonio Spurs for half a season). The man known as “Bahama Mama” and “The Bum,” according to ESPN, won the NBA championship with the Showtime Lakers in 1987 and 1988 and retired from the sport in 1991.
Today, Mychal and Julie Thompson live in Los Angeles, California, where the former NBA star works as a color commentator for the Lakers radio broadcasts. When he’s calling his son’s games, he’ll refer to the Warriors star as “That Thompson kid” or “That Thompson Boy” or sometimes “Klay,” ESPN shared.
2. Klay Thompson’s Mother Is Julie Thompson, a College Volleyball Star
Thompson’s athletic prowess comes not just from his father but from his mother, Julie Thompson, as well. Thompson’s mother was interested in many sports from a young age. She grew up in Ridgefield, Washington, where she attended Ridgefield High School and played volleyball with the school team, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
After graduating in 1982, she decided to attend the University of Portland since she wanted to attend a school that put an emphasis on academics as much as athletics. Julie Thompson remained at the university and played for its volleyball team for two years, and she actually ended up meeting her future husband, Mychal Thompson, at the gym there. After her first two years, she transferred to the University of San Francisco, “where she dominated as an outside hitter for the volleyball team,” her bio states on her charitable foundation’s website.
She married NBA star Mychal Thompson in 1987 and they welcomed three sons together within three years. Their eldest, Mychel Thompson, was born on June 1, 1988. He was described by his father to the Orange County Register as the baby with “perfect timing” since he was born between two home games during the 1988 NBA Finals when Mychal Thompson was playing for the Lakers against Detroit.
Their second son, Klay Thompson, was born on February 8, 1990. Like with their eldest, Mychal Thompson associates his second son’s birthday with a sporting event. “He was born … two days before Mike Tyson upset Buster Douglas and I jumped around the house while Julie held little Klay in her arms,” he shared with the Register. Their third son, Trayce Thompson, was born on March 15, 1991.
Julie Thompson, who graduated with an accounting degree, now works as the president of the Thompson Family Foundation, which she co-founded in 2017 alongside her husband and sons.
3. Klay Thompson’s Parents Are Competitive But He & His Brothers Said They Never Felt Pressure to Follow in Their Parents’ Footsteps
Despite having two parents who were athletes, the Thompson children shared that there was never any pressure to pursue sports. Trayce Thompson told the San Francisco Chronicle, “They never put any sort of pressure on us to play sports. Completely different from other sports parents we knew, especially in California. I couldn’t ask for better parents.”
Mychal Thompson would agree with that assessment as he told the Los Angeles Times that he didn’t encourage any sports and wanted his sons to figure out what they liked on their own. In fact, he often found himself as the pitcher and umpire in their baseball games, according to Bleacher Report. That said, once they did start pursuing a sport, he told them that “they have been given a gift and to respect that. … It doesn’t last long. Give everything you have to the sport.”
That competitive environment was around in the Thompson house even before the three boys came along, according to the eldest Mychel Thompson. He said his mother told him that the couple would sometimes stay up all night as she tried to beat her husband in ping-pong and pool since he was better than her. Mychel Thompson told Bleacher Report that his mother told him she stayed at it until she could beat him.
4. Klay Thompson Thanked His Brothers Mychel & Trayce for Shaping Him Into the Player He Is Today
The way Thompson and his brothers tell it, it seems as though their entire childhood was one long series of games and sports, inside and outside the house. The Warriors star described one such game, called “In the paint,” in which the winner was the first to get 11 baskets with at least one foot in the paint. The game was essentially a constant 2-on-1 and Thompson told ESPN it was great preparation for his basketball game as he got older.
In fact, Thompson thanked his brothers during his speech at the Warriors Championship Parade in 2015. He said, “without them, I wouldn’t be the player I am, playing against them every day one-on-one.”
Thompson also credited his older brother Mychel with helping him to be more social and to come out of his shell. He said when his brother was playing with the Santa Cruz Warriors, he’d often take a 90-minute drive with his teammates to Thompson’s house. “He’d invite the whole team up to the house in Oakland, and we’d barbecue or go out to dinner,” he told Bleacher Report.
He said he eventually realized that the players all just wanted to be in a house and relax instead of in a budget hotel and praised his older brother for being such a great teammate and person. “He’s just a good soul,” Thompson shared. “He cares for other people. That’s what I learned from him, and that’s what everybody says about him.”
5. The 5 Family Members Started a Charitable Organization Together, the Thompson Family Foundation
The Thompson family is just as tight-knit in their other endeavors and launched a foundation together in 2017. The Thompson Family Foundation was started to help kids in the U.S. and the Bahamas with a focus on education and athletics and all five Thompson family members are listed as co-founders.
In addition to being co-founders, eldest son Mychel Thompson is the family ambassador. The board of directors includes Julie Thompson as president, her brother John Leslie as secretary, Mychal Thompson as vice president, and the three Thompson boys as trustees.
The latest initiative announced by the foundation is the launch of The 941 Project aimed at “assist[ing] and support[ing] re-entry to the workplace for individuals from disadvantaged situations.” Named after the number of days Thompson was off the court with his two back-to-back major injuries, the project will help workers get back on their feet through “employment education, interview training, career development support and networking opportunities,” the foundation states.