Michael Jordan has two brothers, Ronnie and Larry, and two sisters, Deloris and Roslyn
Michael Jordan is considered one of the greatest basketball player of all time — and he credits his success, in part, to his four siblings.
Michael is the fourth child born to Deloris Jordan and James R. Jordan Sr., who died in 1993. He has two older brothers — James Jr. (known as “Ronnie”) and Larry — and two sisters — older sister Deloris and younger sister Roslyn. The five siblings spent most of their childhood in Wilmington, North Carolina, growing up on five acres of land. It was in that backyard that the Jordan siblings played — and where Michael’s legendary competitive nature was born.
“That competitiveness within me started when I was a kid,” Michael said in the 2020 ESPN docuseries The Last Dance.
The siblings played everything from football to baseball to basketball, Larry told ESPN in 2009. But it wasn’t just fun and games: The competition became particularly intense between Michael and his brother Larry, who was just 11 months older.
“We used to compete an awful lot in the backyard,” Larry said in The Last Dance. “My brothers hated losing, but not on the same level like me because if you beat me back then, we had to fight — and that’s just the way I was.”
Though their parents often broke up fights between the brothers, Michael credits those battles with setting off his drive. That ambition would eventually lead him to six NBA championships, five NBA MVP awards and an induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“When you come to blows with someone you absolutely love, that’s igniting every fire within you,” Michael said in The Last Dance.
So, who are the siblings behind Michael Jordan’s success? Here is everything to know about Michael’s brothers and sisters: Ronnie, Larry, Deloris and Roslyn Jordan.
Michael and his four siblings grew up playing sports
Growing up in Wilmington, North Carolina, all five of the Jordan siblings were involved in sports. With both parents working full time, Deloris and James Sr. viewed athletics as a way to keep their kids out of trouble and a way to teach them valuable lessons.
“They always wanted all of us to play organized sports so that we learned more about life,” Michael said in The Last Dance.
“We had five kids, and the wife and I both worked, and we would worry at times about the kids being home,” James Sr. said in archival footage. “So we thought one of the things that we could do was get them involved in sports. Drop them off at the Little League field or the gym and keep them involved in the community.”
Michael’s mother, Deloris, made sure that all of the siblings supported one another in their athletic efforts: The girls would attend the boys’ basketball games and the boys would be there for the girls’ softball games.
“That was a family rule,” Larry told ESPN in 2009. “We had to go out and support each other, so there was never any jealousy on my part.”
They are intensely competitive
Michael is known as a legendary competitor both on and off the basketball court — and that characteristic dates back to his childhood. The entire family was competitive by nature.
“As a family, we were naturally tough,” Ronnie, Michael’s oldest brother, said in The Last Dance. “We hated to lose.”
Michael also spoke about his family’s competitive spirit in his 2009 Hall of Fame Induction speech.
“I got two brothers — James and Larry — they’re 5’4”, 5’5” in height,” Michael, who is 6’6”, joked. “They gave me all I could ever ask for as a brother in terms of competition.”
He continued: “And the competition didn’t stop there. My sister, who is one year younger than me, Roz, never wanted to be home by herself. She took classes, extra classes, to graduate from high school with me, to go to University of North Carolina with me, and to graduate prior than me. And you guys sit there asking me where is my competition or where did my competitive nature come from? It came from them.”
But out of the five siblings, the two who were most competitive were Michael and his closest brother, Larry.
“We had numerous battles,” Larry recalled to ESPN. “If I lost, I had to keep playing until I won. That’s why, more often than not, it would end in a fight. ... I won most of them until he started to outgrow me. And then that was the end of that.”
Larry was originally considered the best basketball player in the family
Michael and Larry were particularly competitive with each other because, for most of their childhood and teen years, Larry was considered the better athlete.
“They were so competitive between the two of them,” James Sr. recalled in The Last Dance. “Matter of fact, at that time, it might be said that Larry was the best basketball player.”
And for Michael, feeling like someone was better than him fueled his drive.
“If you want to bring out the best in Michael, tell him he can’t do something or he can’t do it as good as somebody else,” James Sr. continued. “And I think that he takes it as a personal challenge to go out and do it just to prove you wrong.”
Michael did just that with his older brother Larry: After not making their high school varsity basketball team as a sophomore, Michael practiced all day over the summer — and grew 5 inches between his sophomore and junior years. He made the Emsley A. Laney High School varsity team as a junior and became a better player than his older brother, who was a senior on the team. But Larry didn’t resent Michael’s soaring talents on the basketball court.
“People ask me all the time if it bothered me, but I can honestly say no, because I had the opportunity to see him grow,” Larry told ESPN. “I knew how hard he worked.”
Michael also credits the competitiveness with his brother Larry as one of the reasons for his success as a professional athlete.
“I don’t think, from a competitive standpoint, I would be here without the confrontations with my brother,” Michael said in The Last Dance. “My determination got even greater to be as good, if not better, than my brother.”
Ronnie spent 31 years in the U.S. Army
The eldest Jordan sibling, James Ronald Jr. — or Ronnie, as his family calls him — spent three years of high school in the U.S. Army Junior ROTC. Two days after he graduated from high school, Ronnie, who is six years older than Michael, enlisted in the Army.
“I figured I wanted to be a soldier, plus I was the oldest of five kids,” Ronnie said in 2004, per CBS News. “I wanted to get out of the house and do something myself.”
Ronnie went on to have a 31-year career in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of command sergeant major in the Airborne Corps. He completed three separate tours in Iraq, including one in 2004 — after his mandatory retirement date. Ronnie requested to stay the additional year to accompany his unit on the yearlong deployment.
“We are currently at war,” Jordan said in 2004 before his unit shipped out to Iraq. “We are doing things, and it requires leaders to do certain things. That’s what I am, a leader.”
He added: “I've been doing this by myself for so long, being my own person, being my own soldier. I’m going to continue doing it the same way until the day I feel like I need to hang it up, not when they feel like I need to hang it up.”
Ronnie retired in April 2006, and his retirement ceremony was held at Fort Bragg (now known as Fort Liberty) in North Carolina. The three-day ceremony included tributes from then-President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton and was attended by thousands of troops and Ronnie’s family, per ESPN — with the exception of Michael, who did not arrive until the second day at his mother’s request.
“I wanted Ronnie to have his day,” Deloris told ESPN.
Roslyn has written three children’s books with her mother Deloris
Both Deloris and James Sr. tried to foster each of their children’s individual talents — whether it was sports for Larry and Michael, leadership activities for Ronnie or the creativity of their two daughters, Deloris and Roslyn.
“I always told my children, ‘Each one of you has special gifts, it’s how you use them,’ ” their mother told ESPN. “Each one had a talent, but how they approached it was different from the others.”
For Roslyn, a gifted writer, using her talents meant teaming up with her mother to write three children’s books: Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream in 2000; Did I Tell You I Love You Today? in 2004; and Michael’s Golden Rules in 2007. Salt in His Shoes became a New York Times bestseller in January 2001.
“We wanted to use Michael to show that when you have a dream, you have to have a strong will, determination and practice, and, of course, you need prayer to make your dreams come true,” Roslyn told the Chicago Tribune about writing Salt in His Shoes.
Ronnie, Larry and Larry’s son, Justin, all worked for Michael and the Charlotte Hornets
In 1988, Larry played one year of professional basketball for the World Basketball League’s Chicago Express, according to Yahoo! Sports. He went on to own a sportswear company with his father in the early 1990s and later worked as a regional sales manager for sports memorabilia company Upper Deck.
After Michael became the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats (now called the Charlotte Hornets), Larry went to work for his younger brother. His first position in the organization was director of special projects, and he was promoted in 2013 to team director of player personnel. In 2021, the Hornets announced that he was promoted to vice president of player personnel.
After his 31 years in the military, Ronnie worked for several years in the private sector, then joined the Hornets organization in 2013. His first role was executive vice president of operations, and by October 2019, he had been promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Larry’s son, Justin Jordan, also worked for the NBA team. According to Sports Illustrated, Justin — who played college basketball for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro — worked as an assistant video coordinator for the Hornets before being promoted to scout in 2019.
In August 2023, Michael sold his majority stake in the Hornets but retained minority ownership.
Ronnie, Larry and Roslyn attended Michael’s NBA Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in 2009
When Michael was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, three of his siblings — his big brothers Ronnie and Larry and his little sister Roslyn — were in attendance. He spoke about each of his siblings in his speech, referencing their competitiveness and how they influenced his success in the NBA.
“My brother Larry is an ideal situation, where small things come in small packages,” Michael said. “This dude fought me every single day. And to the extent that my mother used to come out and make us come in because we were fighting way too much.”
Michael continued: “And my older brother was always gone. He served in the Army for 31 years.” He added that his younger sister, Roslyn, took extra classes to finish high school the same year as Michael and finished school at UNC before him.
The NBA legend also paid tribute to the family members who weren’t in attendance that evening: his big sister, Deloris, and his late father, James Sr.
“You guys sit here and ask me where did my competition or where did my competitive nature come from? It came from them. It came from my older sister, who’s not here today. And my father, who’s not here today — obviously he’s with us, in all of us,” Michael said. “They started the fire in me.”
They all have children of their own
The Jordan siblings have at least 13 children between them. Ronnie and his wife, Blanca, have three children. Larry has two kids, a daughter named Alexis and a son named Justin. Michael's sister, Deloris, has three children, according to Hustle Mama Magazine.
Michael has five kids: Jeffrey, Marcus and Jasmine with his first wife, Juanita, and identical twin daughters, Victoria and Ysabel, with his wife Yvette. In a 2009 interview with ESPN, Larry spoke about how the extended family gathered for Thanksgiving each year at Michael’s Chicago home — despite their busy schedules.
“It’s really fun for his kids and my kids to see how we compete at 21 or even a board game,” Larry said. “And when we play basketball, my chances are better now than over the last 20 years.”
Larry’s son, Justin, and Michael’s sons, Jeffrey and Marcus, all became talented basketball players in their own rights. Justin played college basketball for UNC Greensboro; Jeffrey played for the University of Illinois and the University of Central Florida; and Marcus played for the University of Central Florida.
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