Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Austin Reaves is the son of Nicole Wilkett and Brian Reaves. The NBA player and his family, including his brother Spencer, are from Newark, Arkansas.
Here’s what you need to know about Austin Reaves’ family:
1. Austin Reaves Is the Son of Nicole Wilkett and Brian Reaves & He Grew Up on a Big Farm in Arkansas
Reaves grew up in Newark, Arkansas, on a 300-acre farm “in the middle of nowhere,” he shared with the Los Angeles Times, and his hometown paired with his love of former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant earned him the nickname “Hillbilly Kobe.”
From a young age, Reaves knew he didn’t want to stay and work on the farm but his parents, who were both college basketball players, told him he had to commit to sports if he didn’t want to do farm work. Reaves’ parents are Nicole Wilkett and Brian Reaves and he also has an older brother, Spencer Reaves, who also plays professional basketball.
During a joint interview with the Times, Wilkett laughed as Reaves recounted getting nearly caught up in a stampede of cows when he was younger. Wilkett said he never liked the cows and had told her sons, “Either you get in the gym or you work on the farm.” She said the town was so small there wasn’t much to do so she encouraged them to go all in on sports if that was their passion.
That motivation helped Reaves as he played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Wichita State followed by two years at Oklahoma.
2. Austin Reaves’ Father Brian Reaves Was a Point Guard at Arkansas State & Made a Name for Himself at the Collegiate Level
Reaves’ father, Brian Reaves, was a point guard at Arkansas State from 1989-93 and is still ranked tied 3rd in career assists in the school’s leaderboard with 384. According to the Los Angeles Times, Reaves’ father lives in Batesville, 10 minutes away from Newark.
Reaves said he always laughed seeing photos of his father playing for his university because of the shorter shorts players used to wear back then. “It was kind of funny,” the NBA star told the Wichita Eagle. “My dad played when the shorts were really short, so I always make fun of him when I see those.”
Brian Reaves shared that he sometimes played sports with his two sons growing up and described them both as very competitive. “I guess the best way to describe it is two brothers that were super competitive and didn’t want the other one to win,” he explained to The Oklahoman. “So, a lot of times whatever sport they were doing would end up in some kind of a scuffle.”
He said he tried to keep the peace between them but believes that it ultimately pushed them to be better players. In fact, Reaves said that knowing about his parents’ successes on the court also pushed him to want to achieve those same goals.
“Me and my brother growing up knew [our parents] both played Division I basketball, so that’s what our goal was,” he explained to the Wichita Eagle while he was still playing for Wichita State. “I never thought I would be where I am now and it’s a blessing,” he shared. “It’s a blessing to have two parents who played for a Division I team.”
He said his mother and father were really demanding in terms of his athletic performance and even after a good game they’d let him know his mistakes. “That’s a good thing when you’re growing up,” he shared. “You can’t get too high on what you’re doing good. You have to work on the lows and that’s what they did.”
3. Austin Reaves’ Mother Is Nicole Wilkett & She Also Played Basketball for Arkansas State
It’s not just Reaves’ father who gives him his honest opinion on his performance as his mother also doesn’t hold back. Reaves’ mother is Nicole Wilkett and she was a successful Arkansas State basketball player. The Wichita Eagle reported that Wilkett was an all-conference forward for the university in 1990-92 and averaged 21.3 points in her senior season.
Wilkett joked to The Los Angeles Times that she’s “More of a scorer than a shooter, know what I mean.” She said she sometimes gets nervous watching her son play, more than she ever got when she was the one on the court.
Similarly to Reaves’ dad, his mother has also always been upfront with her son about his performance. “I can probably tell you the mistakes he made more than the points he scored,” she confessed to the Times.
That’s no surprise to Reaves, who admitted during a Lakers postmatch interview that his mother would have been frustrated at one of his plays. He made those comments on December 9, 2022, after the Lakers fell to the Philadelphia 76ers in a frustrating overtime loss. The Lakers had the opportunity to wrap up the game but Reaves and Anthony Davis both missed some key free throws.
“You always have to make that [free throw], especially under those circumstances,” Reaves said in his post-game interview. “But it sucks to miss. I’m sure my mom will be frustrated at me for missing a free throw.”
4. Austin Reaves Has an Older Brother Named Spencer Reaves, Who Also Plays Professional Basketball in Europe
The Reaves are truly a basketball family as the Lakers star’s older brother, Spencer Reaves, is also a professional basketball player. Currently playing with the German team Brose Bamberg, Spencer Reaves grew up playing with his younger brother and their friends on a half-court next to their house. He said they would play with “no fouls” and “no out of bounds,” which often meant the boys were scrapping over loose balls way off the court in the forest.
Spencer Reaves joked that his professional basketball career in Europe was much-discussed in Newark but that changed after his younger brother joined the NBA. “Now I’m Austin’s older brother… And I hate when that happens,” he said. Prior to Spencer Reaves’ professional career overseas, he had a successful college stint at North Greenville and Central Missouri.
In 2020, Spencer Reaves shared with Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazelle that his path was “tough at times” but he was still passionate about the process. “I’ve never been the most athletic, didn’t have many college scholarship offers when I was coming out of high school,” he admitted. He said he had to work hard to get to each step but he was going to continue to do that to keep pushing himself further in his career.
5. Austin Reaves Said His Brother Spencer Inspired Him to Pursue a Professional Basketball Career
Reaves credited growing up in a basketball family, especially seeing his older brother’s success, with pushing him into a professional career. The brothers played together for Cedar Ridge High School and won the 2A state title together. Reaves’ older brother shared that he had to “drag” the future NBA star to the gym to work out because he wanted their team and his brother to improve.
“You could just tell that he always had it,” Spencer Reaves told The Oklahoman. “And of course when he was playing his age group, you could see how much better he was than most of those kids at his age and you could just see him keep developing.”
Reaves acknowledged that his brother saw his talent even when Reaves himself didn’t see it yet. “So that’s one reason that I can look back and just appreciate him because I wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for him,” he shared. He said if he hadn’t grown up with his older brother, he might not be playing in the NBA. Reaves described his older brother as someone that everyone looked up to and a great example for him to follow.
Now, Spencer Reaves shared that he’ll stay up late or wake up early in Germany to make sure he can watch his little brother play each of his games with the Lakers.