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.
“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.