Jaden Ivey and Niele Ivey: All About the Basketball Stars’ Mother-Son Relationship

Niele Ivey gave birth to her son Jaden Ivey in 2002

<p>Niele Ivey Instagram</p> Niele Ivey and Jaden Ivey

Niele Ivey Instagram

Niele Ivey and Jaden Ivey

Jaden Ivey and his mother Niele Ivey have basketball in their blood.

Niele — the current head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish — gave birth to Detroit Pistons guard Jaden on Feb. 13, 2002, shortly after her WNBA rookie season with the Indiana Fever. Jaden’s athletic abilities also come from his father Javin Hunter’s side with Hunter having been drafted into the NFL by the Baltimore Ravens in 2002.

Both Jaden and Niele have carved out successful athletic careers. Jaden was picked fifth overall by the Pistons in the 2022 NBA Draft, and Niele played in the WNBA and also led Notre Dame to the NCAA championship as a player in 2001 and as an assistant coach in 2018, becoming her son’s biggest inspiration in the process.

“I learned about the game being around her, every day, going to the gym, how to work, how to study … [I] learned all that from her,” Jaden said to NBA.com.

Niele was pregnant with Jaden during her first season in the WNBA. Once she gave birth to him, Jaden came with her everywhere, learning as much as he could about basketball from his mom.

“He was on the court his whole life, literally, even before I gave birth,” Niele told NBA.com in the same interview. “For him to be a pro basketball player? I couldn’t have imagined it, but it sounds like it was meant to be.”

“It was Jaden and I, him being with me at work and me supporting him with all of his activities, school and sports,” Niele continued. “Two peas in a pod, always together. We’re kind of attached that way, which is such a beautiful thing. A strong bond. He was a really great kid and I was always so proud and blessed to be his mom.”

Here’s everything to know about NBA star Jaden Ivey and his relationship with his NCAA coaching mother Niele Ivey.

Niele kept her pregnancy with Jaden a secret during her 2001 WNBA rookie season

<p>Niele Ivey Instagram</p> Niele Ivey holds Jaden Ivey in this throwback photo.

Niele Ivey Instagram

Niele Ivey holds Jaden Ivey in this throwback photo.

Jaden has not only been around basketball since he was born, but literally before he was born. Niele was pregnant with Jaden during her rookie season in the WNBA while playing with the Indiana Fever, but she kept it a secret at a time when playing pregnant carried a greater stigma around it.

“It was a dream come true being drafted, then finding out I was pregnant, that was a challenge to navigate being a young mother,” Niele told NBA.com. “I just had a lot of worries and anxiety from that, not knowing what it would mean for my career, would I be able to come back, all that.”

“So some of the challenge was being able to perform pregnant. It was a secret that I didn’t express with my coaches because I wanted to finish the season,” Niele continued. “Feeling scared and nervous, I carried all that throughout the summer.”

Niele raised Jaden as a single mother

<p>Niele Ivey Instagram</p> Jaden Ivey and Niele Ivey.

Niele Ivey Instagram

Jaden Ivey and Niele Ivey.

Niele and Jaden have both achieved success on the court, but things weren’t always easy for them. Niele raised Jaden as a single mother while starting her WNBA career and the strength she showed in doing so is part of what made her Jaden’s role model.

“Because of what she had to do not only on the court but off the court, being a single parent, that’s just saying how strong of a woman she is,” Jaden told Indystar in 2021. “Having my mother by my side all the time … it's amazing knowing you have someone like that in your life.”

“I always say I turned into survivor mode. I said, ‘This is my profession. I need to get back so I can play for me and him,‘ ” Niele added. “I remember having moments [when] it was so hard. I sacrificed, we both did, but we both learned how to navigate together. I've been very blessed.”

Jaden’s mother made him an avid fan of women’s basketball

<p>Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty </p> Jaden Ivey and Niele Ivey in 2022.

Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty

Jaden Ivey and Niele Ivey in 2022.

Jaden has been around basketball his entire life, having been raised around some of the greatest to ever play the game.  This included Niele’s then-teammate with the Indiana Fever Tamika Catchings — a 2011 WNBA MVP, 2012 WNBA Finals MVP and 10-time WNBA All-Star.

“If I wasn’t holding him, Tamika Catchings had him,” Niele told NBA.com. “He was at practice, and the manager was holding him. I had him everywhere with me. I was able to travel with him when he was a baby, and my teammates and I were always together. He had a lot of ‘aunties.’ He was raised by a village of strong women.”

This continued as Niele became the assistant head coach — and eventually head coach — of Notre Dame, where Jaden would sometimes train with the players. Niele has coached players such as six-time WNBA All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith, two-time WNBA champion Jewell Loyd and 2020 WNBA scoring champion Arike Ogunbowale during their college careers.

“If you’re a basketball fan and love the game, you look up to the men and women’s game,” Jaden said in the same interview. “That’s how it is. I grew up in that environment and looked up to those players, the powerful Black women who play the game. It was a joy to be able to be in their presence, to get the love of the game from them.”

Jaden and Niele were both in the March Madness Tournament at the same time

<p>Niele Ivey Instagram</p> Jaden Ivey and Niele Ivey in 2022.

Niele Ivey Instagram

Jaden Ivey and Niele Ivey in 2022.

In the 2022 NCAA March Madness Tournament, Niele and Jaden’s paths toward greatness synchronized like never before. Jaden was playing in the men’s tournament as a shooting guard for the Purdue Boilermakers while his mother was coaching Notre Dame in the women’s tournament.

Even while coaching one of the country’s most renowned universities, Niele still found time to go see Jaden play — even if she had to drive across the country for away games — while embracing the duality of her role as mother and coach.

“I’m a mess,” Niele said in jest to Forbes. “I’m so nervous. People are like, ‘Are you more nervous as a head coach or as a mom?’ I’m like, ‘A mom.’ I’m hanging on the edge of my seat.”

Niele was at the NBA Draft with Jaden

<p>Jeff Haynes/NBAE/Getty</p> Jaden Ivey and Niele Ivey hug during the 2022 NBA Draft.

Jeff Haynes/NBAE/Getty

Jaden Ivey and Niele Ivey hug during the 2022 NBA Draft.

On June 23, 2022, Jaden’s lifelong dream came true as he was drafted fifth overall in the 2022 NBA draft. That night, Jaden sat down with ESPN before being drafted to discuss his mother’s influence on this moment.

“She had a tremendous impact on me. I thank her for everything. I know I wouldn’t be standing in this arena if it wasn’t for her and I just thank her for everything,” Jaden said.

After being drafted, Niele was there to support a visibly emotional Jaden as the two sat down for an interview with ESPN. His mother reflected on the gravity of their journey together culminating in this moment.

“I’m speechless almost. You know, this is his dream come true … to be in Detroit, we have so many amazing roots in Detroit,” Niele said. “For him to be able to walk on that stage I’m just so joyful. I’m just so happy for him.”

Both Jaden and Niele made it to the highest level of professional basketball in Detroit

<p>David L. Nemec/NBAE/Getty</p> Niele Ivey in 2005; Jaden Ivey in 2024.

David L. Nemec/NBAE/Getty

Niele Ivey in 2005; Jaden Ivey in 2024.

The Ivey family has a lot of history in Detroit. Not only was Jaden drafted by the Detroit Pistons, but his mother Niele ended her WNBA career playing for the Detroit Shock. She spoke with WXYZ-TV Detroit about her memories of her own opening night in Detroit and what it was like being there for Jaden’s NBA debut in Detroit.

“I remember Jaden being a baby and me bringing him to the arena, but this is just a whole other level,” Niele said. “I mean, it’s just been fantastic … I feel like we’re both living our dream. It’s God’s plan.”

The Ivey family history in Detroit extends further as Jaden’s father Javin Hunter played basketball and football at Detroit Country Day high school and his paternal grandfather James Hunter played cornerback for the Detroit Lions. The night after Jaden was drafted by the Pistons, he was honored at a ceremony in Detroit’s Rouge Park presenting him with his own jersey as well as his mother, father and grandfather’s jerseys.

“[My emotions today] definitely [come from] my family. They mean a lot to me. They’ve gotten me here to this point. Everything that I do,” Jaden said to ABC. “It represents my family and [I’m] just so happy to be here and to be a Piston.”

Niele was Jaden’s first coach and still gives him advice today

<p>Chris Schwegler/NBAE/Getty</p> Jaden Ivey Niele Ivey in 2023.

Chris Schwegler/NBAE/Getty

Jaden Ivey Niele Ivey in 2023.

Niele has had success coaching at every level, having led the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to an NCAA championship in 2018 before taking over as their head coach in 2020. She was also an assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies in 2019 as she coached some all-star players, including Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.

However, her first coaching job was coaching her son Jaden when he was growing up.

“When I first got him in a gym, it was, let’s work on your layups,” Niele said to NBA.com. “It took a while for him to respect what I was saying. I think it was because I was mom, and kids say, `Aw mom.’ He gave me a bit of a hard time initially.”

“Then he started getting serious about the game right around when he was 10 or 11 and that’s when I thought he turned the corner,” Niele continued. “All of a sudden it was, `Mom, can you help me with this? Can I come to the gym with you when you work out with the girls?’ I said ‘Wow, he’s really serious.’ ”

Even though Niele may not be the coach of the Pistons, she still coaches Jaden today from afar.

“She watches every game, gives me things that can help me improve,” Jaden said in the same interview. “That’s why we have that special bond. It’s destiny to be able to have a coach for a mom. I mean, don’t get me wrong, she gives me room and lets me grow, but I always ask her things I need to improve on. She sees the game, knows the game, coached at the highest level.”

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