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James R. Jordan, Sr.
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Born

July 31, 1936

Died

July 23, 1993 (age 56)

Occupation

NBA father

Known for

father of Michael Jordan

James Raymond Jordan, Sr. (July 31, 1936 – July 23, 1993) was the father of basketball and baseball player Michael Jordan, and the grandfather of University of Central Florida players Jeffrey Jordan and Marcus Jordan.

Biography[]

James Jordan was born in Wallace, North Carolina on July 31, 1936. He met Deloris Peoples after a basketball game in Wallace, North Carolina, in 1956. She was fifteen, and he was going off to the Air Force, but he told her he would be back some day to marry her. She eventually went off too, to the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, but she returned home soon, homesick. Not long after her return, they were married.

Working for General Electric as a forklift operator, James eventually worked his way up the company ladder to supervisor. However, in 1963 he and his family moved to Brooklyn, NY in order for James to get mechanic's training on the GI bill. He studied airplane hydraulics, while fund work at a local bank. The parents had moved to Brooklyn in 1962 along with their oldest son Larry, but then left their two eldest children with James' mother in Wallace, North Carolina. Michael was born in Brooklyn.

The drug and gang culture was beginning to take hold in the streets of Brooklyn, making it a less than ideal place to raise a family. So after having stayed in New York for only 18 months when James finished his training, he decided to move the family back down to Wilmington, North Carolina when Michael was still a toddler. Altogether he and Deloris would have five children: James Jr., Larry, Delores, Michael, and Roslyn.

A lifelong basketball fan, Jordan played a large role in inspiring his son Michael to become an athlete and traveled the United States to follow Michael's career, first at the University of North Carolina and then with the Chicago Bulls.

Nonetheless, the senior Jordan was also a very big baseball fan, having gone semi-pro himself. Michael recounted in his autobiography and interviews that it was his father's vision that he become a baseball star. Baseball was in fact the first sport that Jordan Sr. had taught him to play. Michael recounted that this was a major factor in his decision to switch to the sport after his first NBA retirement.

Death[]

On July 23, 1993, while returning from a funeral, eight days before his 57th birthday, Jordan pulled over on US Highway 74 just south of Lumberton, North Carolina, to take a nap. Daniel Andre Green and Larry Martin Demery spotted the car, a red Lexus SC400 with the North Carolina license plate that read "UNC0023", Michael had recently purchased for him. Green and Demery shot Jordan to death while he slept in his car, then stole the vehicle. His body was found on August 3 in a swamp in Bennettsville, South Carolina, and was not positively identified until August 13.

After going through Jordan's belongings, Green and Demery realized that Jordan, Sr. was the father of Michael Jordan. They had taken other items from the car, including two NBA championship rings given to Jordan, Sr. by his son. Green and Demery made several calls from Jordan's cell phone and as a result were immediately captured. After their arrest, Demery said that they had planned only to tie up their victim and that Green pulled the trigger for no reason. Both were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for this and other violent crimes. James Jordan was buried at Rockfish AME Church in Teachey, North Carolina, on August 15, 1993. Court rulings that affected North Carolina like Enmund v. Florida, 458 U.S. 782 (1982) plus McKoy v. North Carolina, 494 U.S. 433 (1990) (topic: invalidating North Carolina's rule that a mitigating circumstance must be found unanimously in order to be considered by the jury) prohibited application of the death penalty. The accusation was based only on Demery's testimony, when Green did not testify. Defense counsel Woodberry Bowen said Demery had everything to gain by lying that Green was the triggerman, and that Green's testimony put Demery closer than he earlier admitted.

In 2010, it was revealed the case was one of nearly 200 that were in review after the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation found that laboratory technicians mishandled or omitted evidence.

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