Jeffrey Michael Jordan, the oldest of Michael Jordan's three kids with ex-wife Juanita Vanoy, gave interviews for the ten-part ESPN series The Last Dance about his father and their life. As the oldest child of the basketball legend, Jeffrey's no stranger to high expectations: We first spotted him in episode one as a kid, as he plays basketball casually with his father. "Don't mess up," Michael tells Jeffrey, who explains that it was pretty normal for his dad to ask a lot of him. The former college basketball player never went pro like his dad, but he's still a part of the family legacy in a big way. Here's what we know.
Controversy surrounded Jeffrey Jordan's birth.
When Vanoy was first pregnant with Jeffrey, she went to a lawyer in July 1988 saying that Jordan wasn't admitting paternity. "She told me she was pregnant, unwed, and that the father of the child was Michael Jordan," her Michael Minton said to The Washington Post. "She felt she could not get Michael's attention or cooperation or response without the retention of a legal representative." Jordan did admit paternity a few months later, and Jeffrey was at Michael and Vanoy's wedding.
The Jordan family was super-competitive.
The Jordan household was apparently so competitive so often that Vanoy had to make sure they didn't actually play basketball one-on-one. At one point, when Jeffrey, Marcus, and his father were horsing around, Michael tackled Jeffrey into a table—and Jeffrey had to get 30 (!) stitches:
Despite this, Jeffrey says that the competition at home was "more so on the fun-side." In his 2009 speech after becoming part of the Hall of Fame, Jordan said to his kids, "You guys have a heavy burden. I wouldn’t want to be you guys because of all the expectations." Jeffrey's said he's glad his father said and recognizes it, because it's just a part of the kids' lives.
Jeffrey also played basketball, but didn't go pro.
Jeffrey played division one at the University of Illinois and UCF, where he played with brother Marcus. His father could sometimes be seen watching him in the stands, and gave Jeffrey advice on where to apply and play. After that, he followed in his father's footsteps in a different (kind of literal) way: He started as an intern at Nike in 2009 and now leads brand digital innovation for the Jordan Brand. He says, "I conceptualize and test new technologies, trends, platforms...to enhance the marketing power and the cohesiveness of our marketing campaigns. My job basically is to answer the question, 'How can we utilize cool, new, exciting digital trends to tell our brand stories?'"
Jeffrey's also started a joint venture with Marcus and sister Jasmine called Heir Jordan, dedicated to investment and philanthropy, and cofounded Jordan Avakian Group (JAG) to mentor and invest with startups in the sports/entertainment space. He also just got married in 2019 to Radina Aneva.
He likes 'The Last Dance.'
As seen here, Jeffrey and Marcus contributed interviews for The Last Dance:
In an interview with two of his siblings, Jeffrey explained, "Not only is it great for young kids who never got to see my dad play, it’s also good for those that did follow along, but didn’t really understand what was going on behind the scenes."
All three of Juanita's kids gave a shoutout to their mom, who doesn't appear in the series. "There’s so much spotlight and so much publicity, she made sure we saw the family and we went to the South Side and she made sure we were going to be successful individuals, not just successful children of Michael Jordan," Jeffrey explained.
None of them have seen The Last Dance finale, so they'll be watching with the rest of us on May 17.
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