One of the most compelling figures in ESPN docuseries The Last Dance is Michael Jordan's mother Deloris Jordan. The former bank teller, born in North Carolina and now living in Chicago, has spoken openly about her superstar son, her life as a mother, her work as a philanthropist and author, and the tragic death of her husband. She even makes an appearance in The Last Dance, unlike Jordan's ex-wife or current partner. Here's what we know about Deloris, and the impact that she had on her son throughout his life.
Deloris and Michael are close.
Michael credits his family for his success, saying, "They were hardworking people and they instilled that not just in me but in my brothers and sisters...It just became a part of my nature I always take a negative and turn it into a positive—that all came from my parents."
The Last Dance does also dive into the competition between him and his brothers, and how his father encouraged them to push themselves really, really hard. Michael could apparently be combative as a teen, and his mom pushed him to stay studious.
She says her parenting style was simple, despite Michael's massive success:
"I always told my children, 'Each one of you has special gifts, it's how you use them...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."
In an interview about a book she wrote in 1998 called Family First: Winning the Parenting Game, Deloris spoke about raising Michael and her other children:
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Deloris shares more about her son in The Last Dance.
In Deloris' interviews, she even shared a letter Michael wrote her while he was in college. I'm just going to quote the whole thing here:
How has life been treating you? Fine, I hope. I am doing just fine. I am sending you my account number so that you can deposit some money in my account. I have only $20 in there. Tell everyone I said hello and smile. God and I love you.
P.S. Sorry about the phone bill. Please also send me some stamps.
The Jordans suffered family tragedy.
In 1993, Deloris' husband James Sr. was murdered by two teenagers who stole his car. The tragedy was devastating for the whole family (Michael briefly retired from basketball before returning to the Bulls). Deloris explained that it eventually brought the family closer together to grieve and bond.
Jordan openly wept when the Bulls won another championship on Father's Day in 1996:
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"I know he's watching," he told NBC at the time. "To my wife and to my kids, to my mother and my brothers and sisters, this is for daddy."
Deloris still does charitable work.
In 1989, Deloris and James Sr. cofounded the Michael Jordan Foundation, which closed in 1997 to put more focus on the new James R. Jordan Boys & Girls Club and Family Life Center in 1997. Deloris established the James R. Jordan Foundation and has been president for more than 20 years.
She launched many initiatives including; the Vision for Families Program, The A-Team Scholars program, the Time Out Summer Camp, the Reading Together Program, and the S.T.E.A.M. program. Her foundation also formed partnerships with elementary schools in the Chicago area, and in 2009 she established the James R. Jordan Foundation International in collaboration with other international organizations.
Deloris continues to speak publicly—in 2019, she spoke to mothers of NBA players: "We are blessed to be a blessing."
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Deloris Jordan is a 1-Time AALBC.com Bestselling Author
Deloris Jordan was born September 1941 in Rocky Point, NC and is the mother of legendary NBA Basketball player, Michael Jordan she s the coauthor of AALBC.com bestselling children’s book, Salt in His Shoes, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, which Booklist called “inspirational;” Did I Tell You I Love You Today?, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, which was called “a tender read-aloud” by Kirkus Reviews; and Dream Big. She is also the author of Family First: Winning the Parenting Game, a book highlighting the seven principles of parenting.
Through her work with the James Jordan Foundation in Chicago, Illinois, as well as the Jordan Institute for Families at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mrs. Jordan is widely regarded as an advocate for children and families. The mother of five children and the grandmother of eleven, Mrs. Jordan lives in Chicago.
Ms. Jordan’s daughter, Delores E. Jordan, wrote a memoir which describes the painful details of losing her virginity to her, Ms. Jordan’s husband, James Jordan. Mr. Jordan was murdered in 1993 when he was just 56 years old.
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7 Books by Deloris Jordan
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By Kerri Lee Alexander, NWHM Fellow | 2018-2020
Known as the mother of the greatest basketball player of all time, Deloris Jordan is more than just Michael Jordan’s mom. Mrs. Jordan has established multiple charities and has served as the President and Founder of the James R. Jordan Foundation for almost two decades. She has also established the Kenya Women and Children's Wellness Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. Honored with the Clinton Global Initiative Award in 2005, she continues to give back to her community through the programs she develops.
Deloris Jordan was born as Deloris Peoples in September of 1941. She was born in Rocky Point, North Carolina and attended Charity High School in Rose Hill, North Carolina. While at a school basketball game in 1954, she met a fellow classmate on the basketball team named James Raymond Jordan Sr. Although her brothers would often play basketball with Jordan Sr. at the Pender County Training School, she met him for the first time at their school game. Shortly after, Jordan Sr. asked her father for permission to take her out on a date. The couple quickly fell in love and dated for the next three years. After high school, she moved to Alabama to attend a trade school, while Jordan Sr. joined the Air Force and moved to San Antonio, Texas. By 1956, Jordan Sr. was transferred to a base in Virginia and she relocated with him. The couple got married and welcomed their first child in 1957 named James Ronald "Ronnie" Jr.
By the time they welcomed their daughter named Deloris, Jordan Sr. decided not to go back to the Air Force and began working in a textile mill instead. The couple then built their first home together and had their third child, Larry. Three years after their son was born, Mrs. Jordan and her husband moved to New York so he could attend a trade school. While in New York, she became a bank teller and her husband trained to become a mechanic. During this time, Mrs. Jordan became pregnant and gave birth to Michael Jordan on February 17, 1963. Her son Michael would go on to become one of the most successful, and first billionaire basketball player in NBA history. Shortly after her son was born, Mrs. Jordan and her family moved back to Wilmington, North Carolina. She welcomed her youngest daughter, Roslyn, while still living in North Carolina. Jordan encouraged her children to focus on their education and church, in addition to their many after-school activities. By 1984, her son Michael began playing basketball professionally while still in college. As his success began to grow, Deloris and Michael Jordan decided to find ways to give back to the community.
In 1989, Mrs. Jordan and her son co-founded the Michael Jordan Foundation to raise money for disadvantaged children. Not only was she the President of the foundation, but she also began the Michael Jordan Education Club that encouraged students to improve their grades and attendance. In 1993, six of the club participants earned a trip to Kenya, Africa. Unfortunately, that same year, Mrs. Jordan’s husband was murdered in his car. Two years later, she decided to move to Chicago where her son was a member of the Chicago Bulls basketball team. In 1996, the Chicago Bulls team collaborated with the Jordan family to build a youth center to honor James Raymond Jordan Sr. after his death. The Michael Jordan Foundation was closed to focus on developing the James R. Jordan Boys & Girls Club and Family Life Center in 1997. The success of the Center inspired Mrs. Jordan to establish the James R. Jordan Foundation to provide more academic support for underprivileged children. She has continued to serve as President and Founder of the foundation for almost two decades.
Through the James R. Jordan Foundation, Mrs. Jordan continues to provide support for children and families in the community. She launched many initiatives including; the Vision for Families Program, The A-Team Scholars program, the Time Out Summer Camp, the Reading Together Program, and the S.T.E.A.M. program. Her foundation also formed partnerships with elementary schools in the Chicago area, and in 2009 she established the James R. Jordan Foundation International in collaboration with other international organizations. Through this international branch, Mrs. Jordan built the Kenya Women and Children's Wellness Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. She currently serves as the Founder, Chairperson, and President. In addition to her charity work, Mrs. Jordan is a New York Times Bestselling author, and serves on the board of the Jordan Institute for Families at the University of North Carolina School of Social Work. She currently lives in Chicago, Illinois.
- African American Literature Book Club. “Deloris Jordan.” Accessed December 10, 2019. https://aalbc.com/authors/author.php?author_name=Deloris+Jordan.
- Associated Press. “Deloris Jordan, Michael Jordan's Mom, Delivers Message to NBA Moms: 'We Are Blessed'.” Chicago Tribune, February 17, 2019. https://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/ct-spt-michael-jordan-deloris-jordan-nba-moms-20190217-story.html.
- Cox, Tony. “Michael Jordan's Mom Shares Parenting Advice.” NPR. NPR, April 3, 2007. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9311610.
- James R. Jordan Foundation. “James R. Jordan Foundation.” Accessed December 9, 2019. http://www.jamesjordanfoundation.com/.
- NBC Chicago. “Deloris Jordan Shares Organization's Mission.” NBC Chicago. NBC Chicago, November 13, 2019. https://www.nbcchicago.com/top-videos-home/bags-for-kids-fundraiser-chicago/2106679/.
- Simon & Schuster, Inc. “About the Author: Deloris Jordan.” Accessed December 9, 2019. https://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Deloris-Jordan/1671281.
MLA - Alexander, Kerri Lee. "Deloris Jordan." National Women's History Museum. National Women's History Museum, 2019. Date accessed.
Chicago - Alexander, Kerri Lee. "Deloris Jordan." National Women's History Museum. 2019. www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/deloris-jordan.
Jordan, Deloris, and Kadir Nelson. Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2003.
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Michael Jordan's Parents: What to Know About James and Deloris Jordan
The Last Dance, a 10-part ESPN documentary focused on Michael Jordan and his final season with the Chicago Bulls, premiered on Sunday night. The first two episodes were released and immediately drew the attention of the fans. They loved seeing this unprecedented glimpse into Jordan's life, as well as his time with the Bulls.
Interestingly enough, there was another member of the Jordan family that became a topic of conversation. His mother, Deloris Jordan, was featured during one of the episodes. She read an old letter that her son had written while in college. She also impressed several people on social media due to being 78 years old and looking like she was much younger.
Following Deloris' appearance on The Last Dance, NBA fans began asking questions. They wanted to know more about Jordan's parents. Why was James Jordan not featured during The Last Dance? Would Deloris be shown frequently throughout the remaining eight episodes? The fans had several questions and were searching for answers.
While ESPN has not revealed whether or not Deloris will be shown on screen in future installments, there are some other important details that can be shared. For example, James was able to see his son win three of his six NBA titles. He also inspired community work in Chicago.
James was not featured during the first two episodes of The Last Dance, which made many fans ask about the reason. Unfortunately, this was due to James dying in 1993. He was reportedly asleep at a rest stop in North Carolina. He was shot and his body was dumped in a swamp, only to be recovered 11 days later.prevnext
Jordan won six NBA titles during his career, and he was able to share three of them with his father. One of the most iconic photos in league history is of Jordan holding the championship trophy while his father is clutching his arm. Interestingly enough, this moment nearly wasn't captured by the photographer.prevnext
A former bank teller, Deloris founded the James R. Foundation in May 2000 in honor of her late husband. This organization "provides a pathway out of poverty by empowering youth to achieve their full potential and by leveling the playing field so they can become successful human beings and productive contributors to society." The Foundation has since expanded and created a state-of-the-art wellness center in Kenya.prevnext
James R. Jordan Boys & Girls Club and Family Life Center
In the fall of 1994, Jerry Reinsdorf and the Chicago Bulls announced that they were planning on building a Boys & Girls Club that would serve the West Haven Community of Chicago. The club would be created in honor of James following his murder. The 41,000 square foot facility officially opened in 1996 and still provides support for children in the area.prevnext
There is a very iconic story about Jordan failing to make the varsity basketball team. He reportedly almost quit, but Deloris wouldn't let him. "If you really want it, you work hard over the summer," she told her son. The advice worked, to the point that the ball "never left" Jordan's hand.prevnext
Apart from raising five children, convincing Jordan to keep working on his craft and founding the James R. Jordan Foundation, Deloris has also made an impact as an author. She has created several children's books, including "Michael's Golden Rules." This book — and two others — were illustrated by Jordan's sister, Roslyn M. Jordan.prevnext
The Last Dance featured Deloris reading an old letter from Jordan. This specific piece of mail was focused on needing money to pay a phone bill and buy postage stamps, but it was not the only one that she kept. Deloris actually saved a considerable amount of letters from her son, which he has referred to as "somewhat embarrassing." Although he said it shows how much she cares for her family.prev
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Deloris jordan still alive is
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.”
READ NEXT: Michael Jordan’s Wife Yvette Prieto Is a Proud Mom to Twins
The Untold Truth Of Michael Jordan's Mom
Born in North Carolina in 1941, Deloris Jordan has conquered many obstacles and accomplished a great deal in her lifetime. She and her late husband, James Jordan Sr., passed their own work ethic onto their children, always encouraging them to dream big and never give up.
"They were hardworking people and they instilled that not just in me but in my brothers and sisters," Michael Jordan told Good Morning America. "It just became a part of my nature I always take a negative and turn it into a positive — that all came from my parents."
Michael may be the most famous of Deloris' children, but she sees something special in each one of her five kids. "I always told my children, 'Each one of you has special gifts, it's how you use them,'" she told ESPN in 2009. "Each one had a talent, but how they approached it was different from the others. Michael might have skills for basketball, but [older brother] Larry built things with his hands, and our oldest son was in ROTC and such a leader."
Even when Michael was a sophomore in high school desperately wishing to be taller so he could play varsity sports, his parents were unwavering in their encouragement. "We'd say, 'You have it in your heart. The tallness is within you. You can be as tall as you want to be in your thinking,'" Deloris told ESPN. Of course, Michael did grow taller after all.
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Everything you need to know about Michael Jordan’s mom, Deloris
Michael Jordan’s mom, Deloris Jordan, is a standout presence in ESPN’s “The Last Dance” docuseries.
Beyond miraculously defying the aging process, she touchingly read a letter from her son from college about affording the phone bill and postage stamps.
Jordan teased the moment on “Good Morning America” in April:
“My mom, she kept all my letters,” Jordan said. “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.”
The doc also reveals that Deloris played an integral part in sneaker history, as Michael was set to sign with Adidas, only for Deloris to make him take Nike meeting:
“My mother said, ‘You’re gonna go listen. You may not like it, but you’re gonna go listen’,” Jordan remembered. “She made me get on that plane and go listen.”
What else do we know about Deloris?
She was born in September 1941 in Rocky Point, North Carolina. She met Michael’s father, James, at a high school basketball game in North Carolina. She attended a trade school in Alabama while James joined the Air Force, and then they reunited and married in 1957.
They had five children: Larry, Deloris, Roslyn, James Jr. and Michael (born Feb. 17, 1963). She worked as a homemaker, then a bank clerk.
Deloris rode her children hard and molded Michael into a fierce competitor, especially when he would act out:
“He tells me it would be considered child abuse today,” she admitted to ESPN. “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.”
In the famous anecdote about Michael being cut from the varsity basketball team, Deloris is credited for motivating her son to convert his anger into hard work.
Her two proudest moments of Michael? Seeing him in a cap and gown to accept his degree from the University of North Carolina and watching him competing in the gold-medal game at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Deloris is also the author of several books, including “Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream,” “Michael’s Golden Rules,” Did I Tell You I Love You Today?” and “Dream Big.” She also penned “Family First: Winning the Parenting Game,” which outlines her seven principles of parenting:
In 1989, she co-founded the Michael Jordan Foundation, and in 2000, she founded the James R. Jordan Foundation in Chicago in honor of her late husband, who was tragically slain in 1993. Deloris still serves as president of the organization, which aims to provide “a pathway out of poverty by empowering youth to achieve their full potential and by leveling the playing field so they can become successful human beings and productive contributors to society.”
The Foundation expanded internationally in 2009 and built the state-of-the-art Kenya Women and Children’s Wellness Centre to provide crucial medical assistance to the region.
She also opened the Jordan Institute for Families at the School of Social Work at Chapel Hill.
Deloris Jordan has imparted important wisdom on each of her children:
“I always told my children, ‘Each one of you has special gifts, it’s how you use them,'” she told ESPN. “Each one had a talent, but how they approached it was different from the others.”
Michael Jordan may not have become the legend he is without the terrific parenting of Deloris Jordan, so she deserves a lot of credit when his story is told.
BullsDeloris JordanMichael JordanThe Last Dance