Michael’s racial bitterness began early in life when he watched the show Roots and realized what his beloved great grandfather, a cook at The Wallace Hunting Club, once the bastion of white gentry in North Carolina had to cope with as a black man trying to live in a white mans world.
Michael’s resentment grew and he felt intense racial anger as a teenager when he learned how racial hatred had impacted his own family, according to a new book: Michael Jordan: The Life, by Roland Lazenby and published by Little, Brown and Company.
No. 23: Roland Lazenby’s biography of Michael Jordan lays bare the secret – and not-so-secret – demons of the incredible hoopster
‘It was my father’s early treatment of him and Daddy’s declaration of his worthlessness that became the driving force that motivated him’, Michael’s sister Deloris, nicknamed Sis, recalls. ‘Each accomplishment was his battle cry for defeating my father’s negative opinions of him’.
‘You don’t know what the hell you’re doing. Go on in there with the women’, James Jordan once told his son, chasing him from the room.
The marriage of Michael’s parents was fraught with violent battles with James allegedly delivering knockout punches at times. The family was never without ‘a lurking element of fear’, writes Lazenby, a basketball journalist who spent almost 30 years covering Jordan’s time in college and then the NBA and beyond.
In the summer of 1993 James Jordan got into his Lexus and headed across the state to bury an old friend who had passed away.
Days later, the car was found off a main road in North Carolina, smashed and stripped. His badly decomposed body was found in South Carolina. He had died of a single .38-caliber gunshot wound to the chest. The coroner collected the jawbones and hands from the unidentified corpse and order a cremation of the remains.
When the teenage murderers learned they had killed Michael Jordan’s father, they had tried to cover their tracks. They kept the Lexus three days, took videos of themselves boasting about the event and then abandoned the car about 60 miles from where they’d left the body.
After that Michael lost his motivation to play. He had been lost since his father’s murder in August, and each succeeding account of the details served to intensify his grief, says the author. It changed and hardened him. When he played ball now, he used anger and mental intimidation.
While Michael was growing up in Wilmington, NC, the Ku Klux Klan was still dominant and North Carolina had more Klan members than the rest of the South combined. The Klan bought uniforms for ball teams and Bibles for all the schools. White supremacy ruled the South and black athletes were told they were inferior. Between the racial inferiority and turbulent home life Michael was building up more and more anger and animosity.
Model wife: In 2011, he proposed to Yvette Prieto, a Cuban-American model. They married in April 2013 and have twin daughters
In 2011, he proposed to Yvette Prieto, a Cuban-American model he met two years earlier and they married in April 2013. They announced they were expecting identical twin girls who were born in February.
Before each game, he sits in his office and talks with his dad. ‘What do you think of me now, Pops’?