Jaden Ivey Expressed Gratitude For His Mom Who Played In The WNBA After Being Drafted By Detroit Pistons

Jaden Ivey was overcome with emotion when the Detroit Pistons selected him with the No. 5 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft. The 20-year-old basketball star immediately embraced his mother, Niele Ivey, when he heard his name called.

As he spoke with ESPN after his big moment, Jaden fought through the tears and showed gratitude to Niele, the former WNBA star who played a huge role in helping her son develop his basketball skills.

“Oh man, this is everything,” Jaden told ESPN. “I know I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her. I’m just so happy.”

Niele was also in disbelief as she saw her son’s dream come to reality.

“I’m speechless almost, this is his dream come true,” she told ESPN. “To be in Detroit, [we] have so many roots in Detroit. To be able to walk on that stage… I’m just so joyful, I’m so happy for him … just taking it all in.”

According to the Detroit Free Press, Niele played for the Indiana Fever and for the Detroit Shock in the WNBA. Jaden’s father, Javin Hunter, was born in Detroit. He played wide receiver for Notre Dame, then continued his career in the NFL. Jaden’s late grandfather, James Hunter, also played in the NFL as a defensive back for the Detroit Lions from 1976 to 1982.

Niele currently serves as the head coach of the Notre Dame women’s basketball team. She also won the national championship as a student-athlete at Notre Dame in 2001. The trailblazer now gives credit to the dozens of women who helped her son learn the game.

“He learned the game from women, from powerful women,” Niele told The Athletic. “He got a chance to listen in on practices, watch me watch film, see how we responded to adversity, was at every Final Four and ran on the court when (Notre Dame) won the national championship. He saw it all. I think it’s a very powerful statement that this game translates. It’s a strong testament to the women’s game and how influential we are, how that really impacted Jaden’s journey and his career.”

As a child, Jaden admired the Notre Dame women’s basketball team, especially paying close attention to stars Skylar Diggins-Smith, Arike Ogunbowale and Jewell Lloyd. Jaden praised Diggins-Smith when he spoke with The Athletic in October.

“She has a type of swagger about her that is different,” he told the publication. “It’s killer. Fierce. She’s really got that fierce competitiveness within her. And you can’t mess with her. When she’s in her mode, you can’t mess with her. And when I’m on the court I hope that’s what people think about me.”

After hearing his name called on Thursday, Jaden received a heartwarming message from Ogunbowale.

“I just wanted to say congratulations on being drafted in the first round,” Ogunbowale told Jaden in a pre-recorded video, according to the New York Post. “That’s crazy I’m even saying this, just seeing this little boy grow up, wanting to be in the gym all the time, working on his game every single day to become this young man, superstar athlete. And you’re about to go crazy in the league. I’m a firm believer that you’re really about to take over this league, so I love you, I’m proud of you, and it’s your time to go crazy. You know I’m always in your corner.”

According to The Athletic, Jaden wasn’t the only player in the 2022 draft class who learned the game from his mother. Paolo Banchero, TyTy Washington Jr. and Jeremy Sochan also had a similar experience.

Banchero’s mother, Rhonda Smith-Banchero, was the all-time leading scorer at the University of Washington.

“Paolo learned how to think the game from the women’s game, and (he also learned) a lot of those fundamentals like the backdoor cuts, the bounce passes, just those things that guys or boys at a young age, I’m not sure really learn … because it’s just not in the DNA in a lot of coaches,” Rhonda told The Athletic. “It’s like, ‘Oh yeah you have this kid, he’s good, he’s tall,’ and then you just kind of let that go, I think. I think girls have to continually practice and be on their games because of the lack of athleticism (that) I think men can get away with more often than not.”

Jeremy learned the game from his mother Aneta Sochan while growing up in England.

“It’s not about being kind of a dirty player,” Aneta told The Athletic. “It’s about the vision, seeing and reading the players. … Be able to emotionally assess them as well.”

TyTy, who learned the game from both of his parents, said his mother is a better player than his dad. Tyrone Washington Sr. agreed with his son.

“She was a superstar, all-state this and that. I was her sidekick,” Tyrone told The Athletic. “I could score 30, and she’d have 35. If I had 10 rebounds, she’d get 15. I’m like, ‘What the hell? This is not gonna work. I can’t be overshadowed by my girl.’”

Leave a Comment