Growing Up Jordan: Sneaker Heiress Jasmine Jordan on Living Up to the Family Name
When you ask Jasmine Jordan how many pairs of sneakers she owns, she says it depends on the state. The 25-year-old daughter of basketball great Michael Jordan keeps roughly 300 pairs in her home in North Carolina (all that can fit there, she says). Her parents divorced back in 2006, and Jasmine, their only daughter together, has footwear in both homes: at her mom Juanita Vanoy Jordan’s house in Chicago, and her dad’s in Florida. She keeps some at her brother’s place, too. "I have shoes everywhere," she says, "which makes it easy to travel. I never have to pack shoes." So, no, this apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
Like her sneaker wardrobe, Jasmine can be found on both sides of the country. Just a few years out from Syracuse University, where she studied sports management, she now works as a field representative for the Nike Jordan brand, where she helped with the design, colorways, and direction of the Jordan Heiress collection that dropped earlier this year. When she’s not keeping busy at Nike HQ in Oregon, her home base is in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she works with the Hornets, the NBA team her father owns.
One would expect the twentysomething child of one of basketball’s greatest to live a flashy lifestyle, but Jasmine—much like her notoriously elusive father—says she's a homebody, and thus far she's kept a low profile. She attended public high school in Chicago, which she credits for expanding her worldview, and allowing her to understand the way others around her lived. “Oddly enough, it really proved that we weren't really that different,” she says of her classmates back then. “Except my dad was doing what he did, and their parents were doing something different.”
Ahead, she tells InStyle just how different it was being raised by Michael Jordan, how she feels about edging into the family business, and the select few other sneaker brands she likes to wear.
When we first met seven months ago, you told me you considered your father the star and yourself "just Jasmine.” What has changed? Why are you now ready to open yourself up to the world?
You know what changed? Time! Time has really helped me grow comfortable with not only being Jasmine but also being Michael Jordan's daughter. I'm finally embracing who I am; I'm finally ready to share myself with whoever wants to know who I am and to hear my story. I wouldn't really say anything in particular pushed me towards it, just becoming comfortable with understanding this is my life.
What does that mean, “this” is your life?
Being Michael Jordan's daughter comes with a ton of assumptions that people tend to make right off the bat. I get why people would think that I play basketball, that I'm spoiled, or whatever it may be. There's always some negatives and positives involved. It took me realizing, at the end of the day, that I know who Jasmine is, and those people making assumptions and having their own preconceived notions about me don’t. I actually enjoy being able to debunk some of those assumptions by letting people get to know me so they can separate, yes, I am my father's child, but I'm also Jasmine.
Growing up, did you understand that you were the daughter of a legend?
I definitely didn't realize growing up who he was. He was "Dad," and that was it. It wasn't until my pre-teens at about 12 or 13 years old that I literally went on YouTube and looked up "Michael Jordan" just to see why everyone was so obsessed. I remember being younger and my classmates telling me, "You're so lucky to have Michael Jordan as a dad," and they always questioned what it was like, and all I could say is "he's just my dad and it's fun." It didn't hit me that he was the phenomenon that he is. I would ask him questions all the time like, "Why do you think you're the greatest?" and he would just laugh.
Your dad keeps a low profile; we rarely see him out. Why is that?
You know what, my dad is just like me: very much a homebody and has always been a private person. He just so happened to have chosen a profession that was made for the public eye, and honestly I think if he could've had his same career without the fame, he'd probably still do it. You won't catch him in New York City or L.A. unless it's for business.
You and your siblings are pretty elusive, too. Why aren't you all out there living the glam life of heirs and heiresses?
That has a lot to do with how my mom raised us. My dad always said, “You go out and do what you want, if you want to have that life I support you.” My mom was more about, “I'm going to raise you how I think you should be and once you become an adult you decide what you want to do.” We were all raised in Chicago, our family would come over every weekend, and my mom made us understand where we came from, and that this life was a blessing and not to take it for granted. Now that we're all older we're doing us. [My brother] Jeffrey is another homebody who lives in Portland; [and our other brother] Marcus is more open to that public personality and doesn't mind showing up to a party or doing an interview. And myself, well, I'm a combination of the both of them.
What was it like being the only girl in the Jordan family?
Now my dad is remarried and I have little twin sisters. But between Jeffrey, Marcus, and myself it was different. My brothers played basketball, which pretty much threw them right into the spotlight and everything that comes with our family. It was a lot less pressure being the only girl in the Jordan family at that time, but it also gave me free range to do whatever I wanted, and be whatever I wanted. I had a blank slate to do and try whatever—and that's what I did. I danced, played volleyball, and even flag football. I tried basketball very briefly, but both my dad and I knew that it was not for me. But during that time I was able to take away who my father was to everyone else, and that for sure brought us closer; to this day I still identify as daddy's girl.
What was school like for you?
For the most part, school was easy. My first two years of high school I went to a private Jesuit Catholic Academy in Wilmette, Illinois. For my junior and senior year, I transferred to public school: Two totally different experiences. Public school was way more my speed, because I got to witness different walks of life, learning from and meeting individuals who lived on the West and South sides of Chicago. I wouldn't have experienced that at private school. I benefited tremendously from public school, as I was able to understand that the average person does not live like me. It was mind-blowing at times to hear my classmates’ stories about their upbringings. We would compare and contrast how I lived and how they lived and, oddly enough, it really proved that we weren't really that different, except my dad was doing what he did, and their parents were doing something different.
What was the reception like at public school? Did you have to fight to be known as an individual?
Initially, it was a little tough, because there was no hiding that I was Michael Jordan's daughter. Everyone just stared, whispered, and had side conversations about me. There was a lot of trying to figure out why was I there. I also had a hard time right before college. I tweeted that I was going to Syracuse University, and at that time I didn't have that many followers so I didn't think much of it. A local media outlet picked up my tweet and ran it as if it were an interview, and I was pissed! I was extremely upset, because it was like—first off, I didn't do an interview, and secondly, you just took my tweet and spun a story I had no say in. It was frustrating, because once I arrived on campus I had to deal with stares from everyone. I was being judged and talked about before I even had a chance to ask a question in class. But the university and my professors reassured me that they weren’t going to treat me differently.
You studied sports management in school. How are you using that degree?
I went right into that field upon graduating. For about four seasons I worked for the Charlotte Hornets as a basketball operations coordinator. I now work full-time for Nike and Jordan Brand as a field representative in sports marketing.
I am still connected to the Hornets even with my role at Nike and Jordan brand, as I represent some of the Hornet Jordan players such as Kemba Walker, Nic Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, and Dwayne Bacon. As long as I'm connected to basketball, athletes, and athletics in some kind of way, I'll be happy.
Your brother Marcus owns Trophy Room, a shoe store at Disney World that pays homage to your father. Tell us about your work with the family name or legacy.
So our Jordan women's Heiress collection launched back in January and I've been a part of that whole process from designing, picking colorways, and pushing more feminine products. I, too, like my brother Marcus, want to make sure that our father's legacy continues, and working with the brand from the ground up is preparing us for the day he decides he wants to step aside.
What does your day-to-day look like?
Let me just say whoever said working from home was easy lied! In Charlotte [working with the Hornets] I work from home, and in Oregon I have an office [at Nike]. My days consist of phone calls and emails. Making sure the players I represent have their sneakers, apparel, everything they need throughout the season, and now that we're in the offseason they have appearances, photo shoots, media coverage, so on and so forth, which is all handled by me. So I'm constantly glued to my phone, laptop, and somebody's Wi-Fi.
Your fiance, Rakeem Christmas, is an NBA player himself; how did you meet?
Rakeem and I met at Syracuse in college. He was my first friend on campus and we became best friends while we were there. It wasn't until after we graduated, and after he went through the NBA draft, that he realized that he had feelings for me—and at first I was like, that's kind of weird [laughs]; we're such close friends! But here we are three-and-a-half years later, engaged.
What was the father-boyfriend introduction like?
Honestly, I was more nervous than Rakeem. I don't introduce many people to my father, so once Rakeem actually met him, it was a bit hysterical, because they were both nervous, and just awkwardly sitting there not knowing what to ask, which made me step in and break the ice. Nowadays they're almost like best friends and it's kind of gross, but I'm happy that it was smooth sailing, and it's been great ever since.
He met my mother well before we even started dating, back when she would come visit me at Syracuse, and they're just as close as him and my father, and probably text every week.
Alright let’s get to the question on everyone’s mind: How many pairs of Jordans do you own?
It's safe to assume somewhere around 500 sneakers. As I mentioned before I have sneakers everywhere, and the collection keep on growing.
Are you only allowed to wear Jordans; is your father strict about that?
I honestly don't think he'd really care. But honestly, it's like, we’re the best so why would I wear anything else? Jordan is top-notch, and I say that humbly. If I am wearing any other sneakers it's from brands like Balenciaga, Gucci and others like that. You won't catch me in any competing brands. But I will wear Nike and Converse since we're all in a partnership.
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And can we talk about your ownership of unreleased sneakers?
Umm, I have a lot! And definitely now that we've launched women's I would say about 150.
Do your friends bombard you with sneaker requests?
You know, my friends never ask me, to be honest. It's almost like it never crosses their minds. Yes, they wear Jordans, and they share how hard it was to get them, but very rarely do they actually ask me. If they were to ask, I would totally be fine with it, so when they are having trouble getting their sneakers, and I know it's going to be hard for them, I will definitely get them a pair.