The National Basketball Association (NBA) and other professional sports’ leagues have long been synonymous with paternal problems and broken homes. Take, for example, the 1998 controversial Sports Illustrated article, “Paternity Ward,” in which Grant Wahl and others described the troublesome parenting trends of NBA athletes. They discussed in detail, among other things, the relationship of New York Knicks star, Larry Johnson, and his former girlfriend, Laura Tate. Upon realizing he was going to have a child with Tate, Johnson repeatedly, yet unsuccessfully, pleaded with Tate to undergo an abortion. At one point, Stacey Augmon, fellow NBA athlete and friend of Johnson, even threatened Tate to follow through with the abortion.
More recently, NBA critics point to well-publicized stories such as Jason Kidd’s domestic violence charge and Kobe Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault allegation. The purpose of this article is not to single-out NBA athletes’ paternal and family matters and suggest that these situations are an anomaly of the broader society; nor is the purpose of this article to state that only happy, successful children come from two-parent, married households. Rather, this article seeks to remind all of us that, despite the staggering statistics and stories that suggest paternal irresponsibility, it should not be forgotten that some of the best NBA players in the league are happily married and openly concerned about their fatherly duties.
These are the best NBA athletes who are also happily married with a happy home.
10. Chris Paul: Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul married college girlfriend, Jada Crawley, in September 2011. Together, they’ve had two children. Paul often proudly displays his commitment to his children and family. For instance, the couple’s son, Chris II, is no stranger to the post-game pulpit and famously imitated Paul’s teammate, Blake Griffin. In a recent HBO interview, Paul again made clear just how important his family is: “I love to play basketball more than anybody … But I could honestly see myself maybe stopping a little early or premature just because I hate to miss anything with my kids. I would hate for my kids to recall those special moments in their life, and I wasn’t there.”
9. Marc Gasol: Memphis Grizzlies
Marc Gasol has quietly become arguably the best center in the NBA. As Gasol discreetly conducts his business on the court, he carries out his personal life in a similarly subtle fashion. In an intimate setting, Gasol married Cristina Blesa in the summer of 2013. This international star led his team to the 2013 Western Conference Finals and the 2012 Men’s basketball Olympic gold-medal game. Amid these basketball accomplishments, Gasol has chosen to settle down and focus on family while in the prime of his career.
8. Al Horford: Atlanta Hawks
It would be amiss to discuss the league’s best young centers without mentioning Al Horford. Before falling victim to a season-ending pectoral injury, Horford was averaging 19 points and 8 rebounds per game for the Atlanta Hawks. While Horford focuses on strengthening his body, he continues to strengthen his young family. Featuring two high-profile Dominicans, Horford married former Miss Universe, Amelia Vega, on Christmas Eve of 2011. Similar to Gasol, Horford has elected the married life during the prime of his career.
7. Dirk Nowitzki: Dallas Mavericks
Dallas Mavericks superstar and former NBA champion, Dirk Nowitzki, married Jessica Olsson in July 2012. Upon terminating an unpleasant relationship with former fiancé, Crystal Taylor – who was sentenced to prison for a probation violation related to theft and forgery issues – Nowitzki still publicly declared his desire to one day start his own family. In a 2009 interview with Bild magazine, he said: “I still want to have a family, but first the wounds must heal. However, I still want to have a few little Dirks running around later. But it won’t be easy to win my heart.”
Nowitzki recovered from this rocky relationship and eventually married Olsson. In doing so, he even won the praise of Mavericks owner and personal friend, Mark Cuban, who, in another one of his famous backhanded complements, stated: “[Dirk] found a good one with Jessica, cause the dude had no game. None whatsoever. He’s just a good guy and he married a great lady in Jessica.” Last year, the couple’s only child was born.
6. Stephen Curry: Golden State Warriors
The story of Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry and wife, Ayesha Alexander, is far from the typical celebrity tale. The happy couple met for the first time as teenagers. Along with their families, the two attended church together in North Carolina. At their 2011 wedding, rather than ask for gifts, they invited guests to give to the charity ThanksUSA.org, an organization that supports children and spouses of military families through educational attainment. In addition to supporting the children of their community, these once childhood friends now support their baby girl, who was born in the summer of 2012.
5. LeBron James: Miami Heat
In September 2013, LeBron James married his high school girlfriend, Savannah Brinson. James and Brinson have had two sons together. Though their relationship and wedding have been fairly low-key, James has been very vocal about his support for his wife and kids. In fact, James and family have recently been on display in the popular Samsung Galaxy ads. Growing up without his biological father and living in government housing, James now seeks to provide his children with the stability that he didn’t have. Moreover, James has sought to provide support for countless other children who grow up under trying circumstances. In an essay published in Today News, James stated: “I have tried to pass along [my mother’s] example by helping kids who are growing up in single-parent homes. President Obama lauded James as a role model when he stated: “For all the young men out there who are looking up to [James and his teammates] all the time, for them to see somebody who cares about their kids and is there for them day in and day out, that’s a good message to send. It’s a positive message to send, and we’re very proud of them for that.”
4. Deron Williams: Brooklyn Nets
Deron Williams and his wife, Amy, began dating during their high school days in Dallas, Texas. Over the years, the couple has shown magnanimous commitment to their children. For example, not long after their eldest son, D.J., was diagnosed with autism in 2011, Williams used his charity, the Point of Hope Foundation, to raise autism awareness. And, during his decisive 2012 free agency period, as Williams deliberated his future basketball home, he took into account the interests of his children, especially D.J. electing to play in Brooklyn, Williams knew that his son would be able to benefit from the nearby, reputable school for autistic children in New York. Including D.J., Deron and Amy are raising four young children.
3. Chris Bosh: Miami Heat
LeBron James isn’t the only Miami Heat superstar who has recently tied the knot. Chris Bosh, and his wife, Adrienne, married in 2011. The couple has clearly acknowledged their enthusiasm to raise a large family. Last November, the duo celebrated the birth of their second child together (Bosh’s third child). Following the birth, Adrienne told NBC Miami, “We’ve always wanted a big family, so we’re right around that path. Hopefully two or three more after this and we couldn’t be happier!”
2. Paul Pierce: Brooklyn Nets
Two years after he led the Boston Celtics to their first championship in over two decades, Paul Pierce married long-time girlfriend, Julie Landrum. The couple is now raising three kids. Like Bosh, Paul has vocally declared his desire to play an active role in raising a large, sturdy family. After the birth of his youngest son, Pierce made the following remarks at the Boston Celtics practice facility: “It’s just the third [child], so, still going for five or six more … I just want him to grow up, smart kid, be into the books. Whatever happens in sports happens.”
1. Carmelo Anthony: New York Knicks
As the proud leader of the New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony is also a proud husband, father, and philanthropist. After an approximate six-year engagement, Anthony and performer, La La Vazquez, married in the summer of 2010. They are raising one son.
Beyond raising his own son, Anthony has supported youth in other ways. After the passing of his father, Anthony and his siblings grew up under difficult circumstances in Baltimore, Maryland. Now an NBA superstar, Anthony has done much to support young boys and girls who continue to struggle. For instance, Anthony donated over $1.5 million to the Youth Development Center, an organization that helps advance the academic and social needs of underprivileged Baltimore children.