Each year, as college basketball season winds down, and brackets are busted, sports fans turn their attention to the National Basketball Association (NBA). This year, the NBA Playoffs began on April 15. The postseason tournament builds fans’ excitement for the game, as they gather at venues and sports bars to cheer on their favorite team and players. What many fans may not realize, however, is that many of these athletic superheroes have been touched by adoption. There are many adopted NBA players who have dribbled their way to the top of the professional basketball world.
Beyond the NBA, there are many other professional athletes who have been adopted, such as famed football star Michael Oher. His story inspired the blockbuster film, “The Blind Side.” There are many other stories like his. This article focuses on basketball. Whether you are an expectant/birth mother, looking to adopt a child, or have been adopted yourself, you may want to learn more about these NBA adoption stories. Read on, as we share some of them with you.
Widely considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Larry Bird has a personal connection with adoption. The three-time NBA Champion is the only person in NBA history to be named All-Star MVP, Coach of the Year, Executive of the Year, Finals MVP, Most Valuable Player, and Rookie of the Year. Larry Bird has one biological child from his first marriage.
When he married for the second time, he and his wife, Dinah, decided to grow their family through adoption. They have a daughter and a son, named Connor and Mariah. Larry Bird does not speak to the public about his private life, but it is known that he and his family have been touched by the gift of adoption.
The seven-time NBA All-Star had a challenging childhood before becoming a sports superstar. His parents separated when he was 11 years old. Conflicted with which parent to live with, Alonzo chose to stay in a group home instead. He credits his foster mother with helping him grow into the person he is today.
“She instilled in me the importance of faith, the value of education, and how to be a man,” he said.
While his parents’ separation was a turbulent time in his life, he has said that his overcoming the situation led him to live an incredible life. He is considered one of the most charitable sports stars, with a focus on the foster community.
“I was one of the fortunate ones. I come from a broken home. I didn’t know what direction I was going,” he recalled. “I could have gone in a whole different direction, which, statistically speaking, a lot of foster kids get into.”
His story can inspire other foster children to reach for their own dreams.
Much like his rival competitor, Larry Bird, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr. also has a personal connection with adoption. He and his wife, Cookie, adopted their daughter, Elisa, when she was three days old. Elisa has two older brothers, both biological children of Johnson’s, says she never felt any less loved.
“My parents adopted me when I was 3 days old, but I never felt out of place growing up,” she remembered. “I was completely immersed in the L.A. lifestyle for all of my childhood and teenage years: shopping, eating on Sunset Boulevard, occasional trips to Malibu, and hanging out with all my closest friends.”
In 2016, Elisa starred in a reality show on E! with her older brother, EJ, titled “EJNYC”. During the filming of this show, Elisa met her birth mother for the second time. It was an emotional reunion, and one that Elisa described as an “incredible experience.”
Elisa also reflected that she has the love of two families instead of one.
“Thinking about how I have the Johnson family and I also have my birth family, I just feel like I definitely will never be alone,” she said. “There’s no reason for me to feel alone at all. They’re more than I could ever ask for.”
Free agent Demetrius Jackson has been described as “basketball’s answer to ‘The Blind Side.’” The point guard basketball star lived in two different foster homes as a child, before meeting the Whitfields, the parents of his teammate and friend, Michael. Dave and Beth Whitfield became the guardians and foster parents of Demetrius when he was a teenager.
“All my other foster homes felt like a foster home,” Jackson said. “With the Whitfields, it never felt that way. It’s just a really warm place where you can just be yourself.”
With the support of the Whitfields, Demetrius went on to become a star player for the University of Notre Dame. During his time at the school, his birth mother and siblings would occasionally attend the games and sit with the Whitfields.
“I got a big family,” Jackson said at the time. “That’s the best part about it—my two families can be here to support me.”
Adoption Impacts Everyone
These basketball stars are just a few of the many celebrities touched by adoption. Though not always an easy experience, these famous athletes can serve as examples for those considering adoption – whether you are thinking of placing your child for adoption or want to adopt a child yourself. Adoption offers a positive future for everyone involved.
If you would like to learn more about adoption, reach out to Adoptions With Love. Our caring staff can walk you through every step of the journey. Call us, anytime, at 1-800-722-7731, text us confidentially at 617-777-0072, or contact us online.