Skip to main content

What Michael Jordan's Mother Knows About Parenting

Share This article Family First

When Deloris is introduced as Michael Jordan’s mother, she often feels like interrupting and telling people that she is also the mother of four other children who she is just as proud of and loves “every bit as much as my world-famous son.” Deloris attributes the success of rearing her family to an active faith in God and the commitment of both parents to putting the interest of their family first.

Appropriately enough, the Jordans met at a basketball game in 1954. James Raymond Jordan – Deloris always called him Ray – played at Charity High School in rural Wallace, N.C., and competed against her older brothers at Pender County Training School outside Wilmington. After one look at her, Ray jokingly told her, “One day I’m going to marry you!” Ray helped make his marriage prophecy come true by showing up at her home and asking her father if he could take her out. At first her Dad said no, but Ray’s persistence paid off. “We quickly fell in love and dated steadily for the next three years,” Deloris says.

After high school, Ray joined the Air Force and was sent to San Antonio, and Deloris went to a trade school in Alabama. But the couple soon decided they wanted to be together. Ray was soon transferred to a base in Virginia, they got married, and Deloris moved in with his parents. Their first son, James Ronald (Ronnie), was born the following year. Daughter Delois (named after Deloris) was born soon after. Ray decided not to go back into the Air Force and came home to work with a local textile mill. They built their first home across the street from his parents. By the time their third child, Larry, was born three years later, the Jordans dreamed of a better life and moved to New York where Ray attended a trade school on the GI Bill to learn how to work with hydraulic equipment. Michael was born while they lived in New York. Daughter Roslyn was born the following year when they returned to North Carolina. They eventually settled in beautiful, historic Wilmington.

Family Strength

The Jordans are close family, with both parents and extended family choosing to support their children in their various endeavors. “Raising my five kids was truly a big-team effort,” Deloris says. The Jordans chose to be there for their kids, attending many sports and after-school activities. Integral to the family’s strength was their faith in God. Church attendance was mandatory, Deloris says, no matter what activities they participated in the evening before. “Church, like education, was one of those nonnegotiable priorities in the Jordan family,” she says. “Regular weekly attendance wasn’t merely expected of our children; it was required.”

Life Goes On

After her husband’s murder in 1993, Deloris realized her husband’s killers were “two boys who didn’t know love.” She began to reach out and help other kids and their families. Deloris says there are three words that aren’t spoken enough today: “I love you.” She wants to remind parents to say these words to their children daily. In her work with “under-served” families, Deloris observed that “I love you” is not said nearly enough. “And more than anything,” she says, “incorporate prayer into your family life.”

Through the James Jordan Foundation, Deloris is able to encourage under-served youth to excel in their educational endeavors. To assist in making this possible, the Foundation builds strong networks of support for youth, helps parents get more involved in the educational life of their children, and implements programs through which they encourage youth to strive to do their best. Their mentoring program motivates young people to excel academically. For more information, please call 312-751-9696.

Share This article