Jeanie Buss, the owner and president of the Los Angeles Lakers, is currently engaged to be married to Jay Mohr. Prior to that, she was in a long-term relationship with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, but what fans might not remember is that Buss was married for three years to Steve Timmons, an Olympic volleyball champion, in the early 1990s.
Here’s what you need to know about Jeanie Buss’ ex-husband Steve Timmons:
1. Jeanie Buss & Steve Timmons Met in 1986 & Got Married in 1990
Buss and Timmons met at the Forum, a place that holds many memories for Buss. The Lakers boss, who was previously the president of the Great Western Forum as it was then called, told Sports Illustrated that it was like a home to her. “My 21st birthday was there, I was robbed at gunpoint there, I met my ex-husband there,” she shared.
Buss explained that she met Timmons, a volleyball star, at a tournament at the Forum in 1986. She said, “I saw Steve as somebody who was very marketable. What I’d thought was love was really my attraction to his magnetism.”
Buss was interviewed for a Sports Illustrated profile on Timmons back in 1988 and said her then-boyfriend, “walks around in this big, tough guy’s body, yet he’s got a little kid’s heart.”
The couple married in the spring of 1990 and Buss then moved with him to Italy. During that time, she worked long-distance for her father Jerry Buss and was getting more and more responsibilities from him drawing her back to Los Angeles. Timmons, on the other hand, was playing volleyball in Italy and the couple was being pulled in two separate directions, the New York Times wrote.
2. Steve Timmons Is a Two-Time Olympic Volleyball Champion Who Had a Passion for Basketball Growing Up
Timmons is a professional volleyball player and Olympic champion but he shared that his passion when he was younger was basketball. The athlete grew up in Newport Beach, California, and told Sports Illustrated in 1988 that his goal when he was a kid was to make the NBA. “I never even knew the names of any volleyball players until I took the game up in school,” he said. However, he pursued volleyball and ended up attending the University of Southern California on a volleyball scholarship.
When Buss was dating Timmons, she videotaped the pro volleyball player playing in a one-on-one against then-Lakers star Kurt Rambis. “Rambis sank 10 20-footers in a row and demolished me,” Timmons told Sports Illustrated. “I was kind of mad.” He said he spent hours practicing and watching videos and the following week, Timmons won the rematch.
Rambis, on the other hand, said, “Steve is a highly intelligent athlete, and that’s why he chose to play volleyball instead of basketball. He approached that game as if it were the seventh game of an NBA final. But, despite what he may have told you, he cannot dunk like Dominique Wilkins.”
While he loved both basketball and volleyball, Timmons pursued the latter and represented the U.S. at three Summer Olympics: in 1984, 1988 and 1992. He is a two-time gold medalist, having won in his first two Olympics, and took home the bronze in his third Olympic appearance. He was also named the MVP of the 1984 Olympic team.
In addition to his wins at the Summer Olympics, Timmons won with the U.S. the 1985 World Cup and the 1986 World Championship, his bio states. He also played professional volleyball for Il Messaggero in Rome, Italy. As he told Sports Illustrated, many professional volleyball players end up leaving the U.S. for the Italian pro leagues which have higher salaries. “Volleyball players don’t get a whole lot of respect in the States,” Timmons explained. “Most people still think volleyball is 16 people on a beach who quit when the hamburgers are ready.”
3. Jeanie Buss & Steve Timmons Got Divorced in 1993 as Buss Said She Wanted Kids & Timmons Didn’t
Buss and Timmons’ marriage was short-lived and the couple divorced in 1993. The Lakers boss told the Los Angeles Times that the relationship ended when she found that his plan to renovate their home didn’t allow for more than one bedroom. She told the publication, “I said, ‘Excuse me, but where is the kid gonna go?’”
In fact, Buss told Sports Illustrated that they were being pulled in opposite directions and it was causing issues in their marriage. “I was always, ‘Steve, whatever you want, whatever you want,'” she recounted. “But whenever I wanted something, he was always, ‘You’re compromising what I want.’ I probably should have been his manager instead of his wife,” she concluded. She also revealed that her desire to have kids wasn’t something he shared with her.
While speaking to the Los Angeles Times, she admitted that she hadn’t prioritized her marriage. She said she wasn’t a good homemaker, didn’t cook, and didn’t put her marriage first. “It was always business which attracted me,” she shared.
4. Jeanie Buss Decided to Pose for Playboy After Her Divorce & She Said It Was Very Empowering
Buss’ marriage ending had an impact on her self-esteem, she told Sports Illustrated, and she decided to do something new and out-of-the-box to help empower her. That’s why, in 1995, Buss posed nude in Playboy.
The future Lakers owner had connections to Playboy through her father, who was friends with Hugh Hefner and the owner of the Playboy Club in Phoenix, Arizona. Buss’ aunt Susan was also a Playboy bunny, she told the Beverly Hills Courier. However, she made it clear that she didn’t use any of her connections to get into the magazine and she went through an audition process like everyone else.
Buss told the publication that her decision to pose nude was something she wanted to do to empower herself coming off a divorce. “It was for my own personal growth and coming to terms with who I am and fulfilling a dream,” she said.
She said she’d asked someone she knew, a former Playmate of the Year called Patti McGuire, about posing for the magazine. McGuire told Buss that if she posed for Playboy, it would be part of her life forever. She revealed that she still receives requests from people to autograph the photos and concluded, “Patti was right; it lives forever.”
5. Steve Timmons Is Now a College Volleyball Coach & He Had 3 Kids With His 2nd Wife Though the Couple Divorced in 2018
After his relationship with Buss ended, Timmons married actress Debra “Debbe” Dunning, best known for appearing as Heidi on “Home Improvement,” in 1997, the Los Angeles Times reported. The couple had three children together, a daughter named Spencer who was born in 1996, followed by two sons, Stoney, born in 2000 and Sysco, born in 2008. Timmons and Dunning announced their split in 2018 after two decades together.
In terms of his career, Timmons co-founded Redsand Beachwear, a clothing and lifestyle brand, in 1985. According to a 1996 profile in the Times, the company posted domestic sales of $20 million in 1995. In 2003, Timmons sold the brand to Perry Ellis International, Men’s Journal reported.
After his playing career ended, Timmons turned to coaching. He coached at the prestigious Wave Volleyball Club from 2013 onward and also became an assistant volleyball coach at San Diego State University in 2020. After his appointment at SDSU was announced, the head coach Brent Hilliard said, “Steve is one of the most decorated players of all time and will earn the respect of any student-athlete wanting to play for an elite program moving forward into their collegiate careers,” according to Timmons’ profile on the university’s athletics website.
“I am extremely fortunate to add an extraordinary coach like Steve who affords me the luxury of knowing there is someone on staff whose knowledge of the game is on par with a select few,” Hilliard said. “He is ready to make the move from elite club coach to Aztec volleyball leader.”
Timmons spoke about the joy of coaching with his former teammate and one of his closest friends in an interview with Volleyball Mag. “It’s one thing to work with someone, and it’s another to become real good friends,” he said. “I consider Brent one of my best friends now. We played on the 1992 team together, but didn’t spend a lot of time together back then, but now that I’ve gotten to know him, he’s an incredible guy.”