Early Life and Education
Michael Jordan was born on February 17, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York. His mother Deloris Jordan was a bank employee and his father James R. Jordan Sr. was an equipment manager. The family later moved to Wilmington, North Carolina where Michael attended Emsley A. Laney High School. At high school he was noticed for his athletic ability, as coaches recommended he play baseball, basketball or football. Michael’s father had wanted him to pursue a career in baseball, however the basketball court was calling for Michael. He joined his school’s varsity team, and his impressive skills and games made him a target of various college basketball teams. In the end, MJ accepted a sports scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and played for the college’s basketball team.
The Chicago Bulls
During his college basketball years, MJ once again became a target, but this time various professional NBA teams were vying to draft him. The Chicago Bulls eventually drafted him in 1984. MJ had a prolific career at the Bulls having six NBA titles. MJ did an impressive “three-peat” twice as he and the Bulls won the NBA in 1991, 1992 and 1993 and then again in 1996, 1997 and 1998. On an individual level MJ became a ten-time NBA scoring leader and a six time NBA MVP. As impressive as his Bulls stats are, there was a major tragedy that happened to him in the middle of his basketball career.
His Father’s Murder
In 1993, MJ’s father was returning from a funeral, and as he had a long journey home he decided to stop at the side of a road and take a nap. His car expensive was spotted by two teenage thieves and they decided to shoot Jordan Sr. and steal his possessions. Jordan Sr.’s corpse could not be recognised due to the multiple gunshots he had received, as such he had to be identified via dental records. His father’s death would have a massive impact on MJ, as the incident caused him to become disillusioned by basketball and he decided to briefly retire in 1993 despite the fact that he was still in his prime.
Minor League Baseball
Following his announcement to retire, MJ decided to pursue a new career in baseball. He joined the Chicago White Sox a minor league baseball team in hopes that he could eventually be promoted to a Major League Baseball team. His baseball career was nothing to write home about as during his two-year stint, he was constantly being transferred to other minor league teams. When talking about this period in his life MJ noted that his father’s death had influenced his decision and that he had hoped to fulfil his father’s dream of him playing baseball.
Chicago Bulls Take II and Washington Wizards
In 1995, MJ returned to the NBA and re-joined the Chicago Bulls. He was an integral part of his team’s second three-peat from 1995-1998. He then decided to retire in 1999, but would return again to the NBA in 2001 this time joining the Washington Wizards. His decision came shortly after the 9/11 attacks, and thus indicated that he would donate his salary to those affected from the tragedy. His time with the Wizards wasn’t too impressive as injuries and old age plagued him, however he did manage to break the record for highest scorer in All-Star Game history. Since then, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James beat this record. He finally retired for good in 2003.
Philanthropy and the George Floyd Murder
Michael Jordan is an avid philanthropist. From 2001 to 2014, he hosted the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational, which raised money for various charities. He and his ex-wife, Juanita Vanoy also donated 5 million dollars to the Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago in 2006. In 2008, he became an ambassador for the Make-a-Wish foundation, granting the wishes of over 200 children and he also raised 5 million dollars for the organisation. His philanthropy earned him a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016, which was awarded to him by former US President Barack Obama. This led to some criticism from the African-American community, as critics cited that he should not have met with a president who did nothing for African-Americans despite being one himself. MJ’s detractors would fall silent 4 years later. On May 25, 2020 George Floyd, an African-American man, was brutally murdered by a Minneapolis police officer. This prompted many mass protests across the US and around the world calling for an end to racial injustice towards black people. Amid the protests and the debates, Michael Jordan made an incredible announcement on June 5. Over the next ten years, Jordan and his brand would donate 100 million dollars to charities that are dedicated to "ensuring racial equality, social justice and greater access to education."