Michael Jordan Family History


Michael Jordan was born on February 17th, 1963 to James and Deloris Jordan in Brooklyn, New York.  However, Michael did his growing up in Wilmington, North Carolina where his family returned to after their stay in New York.

He played basketball at Laney High School well enough to get a basketball scholarship at the University of North Carolina.  After starring with the Tar Heels, he was selected by the Chicago Bulls as the third overall pick of the 1984 NBA draft.

Michael played fifteen seasons in the NBA, winning six championships. He was integral in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980’s and 1990’s and became a global cultural icon in the process.  He is considered by many to have been the greatest basketball player of all time.  Only LeBron James among contemporary players may begin to match him.

Slavery and Sharecropping in North Carolina

Michael Jordan’s roots are in the rural South, to be precise in the stretch of land between Wilmington and Wilson (along where U.S. 117 now runs) in Pender county, North Carolina.  There have been Jordans living on that corridor since the Civil War.

The first of record was John Jordan.  There is no history showing where he was born or where he was held during his years of slavery.  The most likely explanation is that he worked at the Stag Park plantation of Jesse Jordan, formerly a white preacher from Georgia, and perhaps took his Jordan name on emancipation.

His son Richard was born a slave in 1862.  Everyone called him Dick. In the sixty-four years he lived before he died in a Wilmington hospital, he went from slavery to owning his own home. He learned to read and could borrow the supplies needed to farm vegetables on his own credit. Like the men in a lot of families, he was a truck farmer. On Dick’s death certificate, filled out with a typewriter, is the only evidence that his father ever lived.

After Dick came Dawson.  He lost his wife in 1916 soon after the birth of their child but lived onto 1977.  That son William started working on his father’s farm when he was fifteen.  He married at twenty-one and he and his wife Rosa had four children, including Michael’s father James.

It was a hard life as a sharecropper and living through the Depression.  Michael can remember his grandparents William and Rosa still eating dirt and clay – a now little-known practice brought to the South from Africa – and getting needed iron from the land.  He used to eat the orange and red clay for dessert when he’d visit them.  William died in 1990 at the age of seventy-five.

James and Deloris Jordan

James and Deloris Jordan, childhood sweethearts, were married in North Carolina in 1957 and later, looking for a chance to better themselves, moved north.  They moved to Brooklyn where James attended a trade school.  But not for long.  Soon after their fourth child Michael was born in 1963, they began worrying about the crime there and made the move back to Wilmington, North Carolina.

Michael grew up there with a military father and a New Testament mother, both of whom were raised in Old Testament homes.

In 1985 their life changed, thanks to Michael who was then in his second season in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls.  They sold the home where he’d grown up and James and Deloris had raised their family.  Charlotte, North Carolina was the beginning of a new kind of life for them, just as Chicago was for Michael.

But later tragedy struck.  On July 23rd, 1993 James pulled over on the side of highway 74 in Lumberton, North Carolina to take a nap after returning from a funeral. During that time two men approached James’ vehicle, shot him to death and stole his vehicle. He was 56 years old.  Since that time his wife Deloris has had her ups and downs and moved away to Pennsylvania.

Still, James would have been proud of his children.  Not just of Michael.  James (Ronnie) was a Command Sergeant Major with the US Army before his retirement in 2006.  And perhaps proud of his daughters Deloris and Rosalyn who are both accomplished authors with published books to their name.

Michael Jordan’s Family Tree

  • John Jordan (b. 1834) m. Alice (b. 1838) in North Carolina
  • – Richard (Dick) Jordan (1862-1926)
  • Richard James (Dick) Jordan m. Charlotte Hand (1869-1920) in North Carolina
  • – Dawson Jordan (1892-1977)
  • Dawson Jordan m. Clemwood Burns (1890-1916) in North Carolina in 1914
  • – William Edward Jordan (1915-1990)
  • William Edward Jordan m. Rosa Bell Hand (1920-1988) in North Carolina in 1935
  • – Mary Alice Jordan (1935-1962)
  • – James Jordan (1937-1993)
  • – Esta Jordan
  • – Harry Jordan
  • James R. Jordan m. Deloris Peoples (b. 1941) in North Carolina in 1957
  • – James (Ronnie) Jordan (b. 1957 in Virginia)
  • – Deloris Jordan (b. 1959 in Virginia)
  • – Larry Jordan (b. 1962 in North Carolina)
  • – Michael Jordan (b. 1963 in Brooklyn) m. Yvette Prieto
  • – Rosalyn Jordan (b. 1964 in North Carolina)



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Written by Colin Shelley

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