Deloris and James R. Jordan, Sr.: The Supportive Foundation Behind Michael Jordan’s Legacy

Michael Jordan is grateful to his parents, Deloris and James R. Jordan, Sr., for encouraging him to participate in athletics.

Recognized as the preeminent basketball athlete of all time, Michael led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles. At the time, they achieved the rare feat of becoming the sole team to complete two “three-peats,” as they did so by claiming three consecutive championships from 1991 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998. Throughout all of Michael’s significant events, his parents provided unwavering support and were the ones who urged him to enroll in community athletics during his childhood. Michael recalled in the premiere episode of his 2020 ESPN documentary series The Last Dance how his parents “try to keep me busy” and “encourage all their children to participate in organized sports so they can learn more about life.”

“At times, we worried about the whereabouts of our five children while both my spouse and I were employed,” James said in archival footage featured in the series. “Consequently, we reasoned that engaging them in sports could be one approach.” Depart them at the gym or the little league field and maintain their community involvement.” Michael stated that his success in the NBA was due to the teachings he gained during his formative years of athletics. “As one ages, in retrospect, one comes to comprehend the process by which one formed their personal identity.” Without the lessons I did absorb at a very tender age, I doubt I would be where I am today. “That inner competitiveness began to develop in me when I was a young child,” he elaborated on The Last Dance. Additionally, the athlete’s parents were instrumental in preserving their son’s legacy. Deloris advised the basketball player during negotiations with Nike in 1984, an agreement that produced the renowned Air Jordan shoe and served as the inspiration for the 2023 film Air. Deloris Jordan and James R. Jordan, Sr., Michael Jordan’s late mother and father, have been through everything from matching at a high school basketball contest to guiding Michael through his NBA career. It all began in high school.

Charity High School in Rose Hill, North Carolina, was where James and Deloris attended, according to the National Women’s History Museum. Following their 1954 encounter at a basketball game where James was a participant, they maintained romantic ties throughout their senior year of high school. Deloris attended a trade school in Alabama after they graduated, whereas James enlisted in the Air Force and moved to San Antonio, Texas, following their graduation. The couple wed and relocated to Virginia in 1956, subsequent to James’s transfer to a military base in that state. According to the Chicago Tribune, they lived in Virginia for several years before relocating temporarily to Brooklyn, New York, in 1962 so James could complete mechanic’s training on the GI Bill. It took the parents of Michael 18 months to relocate from New York to North Carolina, where they continued to raise their family. Deloris and James are the parents of five children.

Michael is the youngest son of James and Deloris. Roslyn Jordan, James Ronald “Ronnie” Jordan Jr., Deloris Jordan, and Larry Jordan are the other four offspring of the couple. ESPN reported in 2009 that Ronnie had devoted 31 years to the Army, that Rosyln and her mother had co-authored a number of children’s books, and that Larry had previously held the position of regional sales manager for Upper Deck, a manufacturer of sports memorabilia. “I always told my children, ‘Each one of you has special gifts, it’s how you use them,’” Deloris indicated to ESPN. “Everyone possessed a unique talent; however, their approaches to that talent varied considerably.” While Michael may possess basketball prowess, Larry was more inclined towards handiwork, and our eldest son was an ROTC cadet who was a model of leadership. Additionally, James and Deloris are grandparents. Ronnie, their oldest son, is the father of three children, while Larry is the father of two. Michael is the father of five children; an earlier marriage to Juanita Vanoy resulted in the birth of three children, Jeffrey, Marcus, and Jasmine; his current wife, Yvette Prieto, bore identical twin daughters Victoria and Ysabel. James passed away in July 1993. James, who was slumbering in his vehicle at a rest stop along the North Carolina highway system in Robeson County, was fatally shot in July 1993. His remains were discovered eleven days later, having been thrown off a bridge in South Carolina. In 1996, Larry Demery and Daniel Andre Green, two adolescents, were found guilty of first-degree murder, armed robbery, and conspiracy to commit larceny. They received life sentences. With an initial release date of August 2023, Demery was granted parole in 2020. However, for an unspecified reason, the North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission terminated the agreement in 2021. Michael discussed the death of his father and how his family “had to support each other” during such a trying period in The Last Dance. According to him, Deloris, his mother, remained “strong” and assisted him in overcoming his sorrow. “The first thing she says, ‘You know, you got to be thankful,’ and I started looking at the positive,” recalls Jordan. “One of the things that [my dad] always taught me is that you have to take a negative and turn it into a positive, so I started looking to the other side of it, and that helped me get through it.” Michael revealed to Oprah Winfrey in 1993 that he had no intention of discovering the crime’s motive while he was lamenting the loss of his father. “I do not wish to know,” he replied in response to the query of whether he wished to question Demery and Green. “Simply knowing their rationales would likely cause me even more pain.” Because if it is, it will be completely without significance for the given reasons. “It is preferable that I am unaware.” Deloris is very active in charitable activities.

In 1989 and 1997, respectively, Deloris co-founded The Michael Jordan Foundation and the James R. Jordan Boys & Girls Club and Family Life Center with the intention of offering academic opportunities and recreational after-school programs to disadvantaged youth. Additionally, she assumes the role of the James R. Jordan Foundation’s founder and president. Established in 2000 in remembrance of her late spouse, this organization offers additional academic assistance to low-income children via a variety of mentorship programs. “I established the James R. Jordan Foundation to inspire young people by proving that anything is feasible with the right education. “Our students are intelligent and motivated to learn; all they require is guidance and a solid support system,” Deloris wrote in an online letter for the foundation. “Our role is to come alongside the schools, the families and the communities, and ultimately help them learn to help themselves.” Furthermore, Deloris constructed the Kenya Women and Children’s Wellness Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of her efforts to improve the quality of healthcare there. She was honored with the Clinton Global Initiative Award in 2005 in recognition of her continuous endeavors in that region. Michael was motivated to pursue baseball by James.

Michael disclosed in the seventh episode of The Last Dance that James and he had a conversation regarding his retirement from basketball as one of their final topics of discussion. “We were debating, me and him, we were debating about me playing baseball,” Jordan remarked. “I would like to go play baseball.” I am contemplating retirement and would like to go play baseball. Additionally, “Do it, do it” was his mantra, as he was the one who initiated my baseball career. After the demise of his father in 1993, Michael made his initial retirement from basketball. His family and the Bulls’ leadership endorsed his choice, recognizing his necessity for transformation. “Because it was his father’s dream that he become a baseball player, I refrained from attempting to dissuade him,” said Jerry Reinsdorf, the Chicago Bulls’ owner, in the series. “But I said to him, ‘playing baseball is a lot harder than you think it is.’” In 1994, Michael entered into a minor league agreement with the Chicago White Sox, where he participated for their affiliate, the Birmingham Barons, until March 1995, when he made his NBA return. James and Michael maintained an exceptionally tight bond.

Michael has expressed his close relationship with his father in a candid manner. On The Last Dance, he referred to him as “my rock” and remarked that they were “extremely close.” “I was constantly advised by him,” the NBA legend remarked. “I recall being suspended three times in a single year during ninth grade. During that summer, my father discreetly approached me and advised, ‘Look, you don’t appear to be progressing in the right direction.’” “If you wish to engage in all of this mischievous activity, you may disregard sports.” He proceeded, “That was sufficient for my attention.” It was thereafter as if I had tunnel vision, and I avoided any further misbehavior.” James was in attendance when his son won the NBA championship for the third time in a row (1991, 1992, 1993). The final championship was won only a few weeks prior to the passing of James. Michael stated in the eighth episode of The Last Dance that he “felt naked” at his first basketball contest back in 1995 because his father “just wasn’t there.” Initially, Michael altered his jersey number in response to the passing of his father. In the series, he stated, “I didn’t want to go to 23 because I knew my father wouldn’t be there to watch me.” “And I felt it was a new beginning, and 45 was my first number when I played in high school.” Michael played in his fourth NBA Finals appearance on Father’s Day, 1996, and the day’s significance profoundly affected him. His companion and driver, George Kohler, stated on The Last Dance that Michael’s father’s constant presence at that game “suffocated a portion of his heart.” After securing another championship for the Chicago Bulls, Jordan broke down in tears on the floor in the locker room as he dedicated the victory to his father. “I cannot even put into words what it means to me on Father’s Day.” “I am certain that he is watching,” he stated in a series-featured post-game interview. “To my wife, to my kids, to my mother, to my brothers and sisters, this is for daddy.” Deloris is the author of numerous publications.

While performing charitable work, Deloris is also the author of a best-selling book. Together with her daughter Rosyln, she has authored numerous children’s books, such as Salt in His Shoes and Michael’s Golden Rules. In September 2009, Deloris divulged the source of inspiration for her inaugural children’s book, Salt in His Shoes, during an interview with ESPN. She recollected an incident from Michael’s youth in which he beseeched her to “go sprinkle salt in your shoes and pray” in response to his demand to attain a greater stature. “He would tell me I was being silly, but I had to pacify him so I could finish dinner,” according to her. “His father would then enter the room and tell him that he desired to be tall.” “You have it in your heart,” we would advise. Your height resides within you. “Your thinking can be as tall as you desire it to be.” Deloris stated to NPR in April 2007 that her capacity to compose captivating and enlightening content for children is a result of her philanthropic endeavors in schools and her responsibilities as a mother of five. “As a result of my collaboration with the James Jordan Foundation, we have endorsed four schools in Chicago,” They attend grades elementary through high. Consequently, we labor at the school. I recognize the children’s predicament. As soon as I start writing, it flows effortlessly. “Once more, it is effortless because I collaborate with them,” she explained. Michael was ultimately persuaded to contract with Nike.

Although he is now closely associated with Nike, Michael nearly withdrew from his contract with the company in 1984. The basketball player detailed in The Last Dance how, despite his initial desire to sign with Adidas, his parents persuaded him to attend a meeting with Nike. “My mother instructed me to go listen,” I replied. ‘You will go listen even if it’s not to your liking.’ “In the series, she compelled me to board that plane and attend the lecture,” he stated. “I entered that meeting with a reluctance to participate, and Nike presented a substantial proposal. My father stated, “It would be foolish for you to decline this offer.” “This is an exceptional offer.” Michael was awarded a $250,000 salary and a signature shoe, the now-iconic Air Jordan footwear, as part of his initial contract with Nike. Michael denoted his mother’s contribution to his accomplishments in 2021 with the Dear Deloris shoe, an installment in his Jordan Series that commemorates individuals who have influenced his legacy.

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