Basketball can be a family business — and for Amari Bailey’s family, the dream of NBA success has been a long time coming.
Bailey is one of the most promising basketball players in the class of 2022. Currently playing for the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins, the 18-year-old shooting guard could be headed for the NBA one day — potentially as soon as his first season with the Bruins concludes.
Amid Bailey’s rise to the top of his game, his mother, Johanna Leia, has been one of his fiercest cheerleaders in helping him succeed.
“Being a single mother I always wondered how you’ve been able to do the stuff that you’ve done for our family,” the college student praised Leia, 41, via Instagram in May 2020. “Thank you for having those conversations that I didn’t always wanna hear or have and thank you for keeping our beautiful family as one unit. Not a lot of people know about our roller coast journey. Trust none of this was sweet at all.”
He added: “Your resiliency is more admirable in my life and day to day than you may know. Thank you for always being a shoulder I can cry. Our best friend relationship throws many off but I wouldn’t want it any other way tbh😭😭. Not many people if any can say that they have a mother that hold your morals and values. Love u lots mamabear💕.”
The single mother is notable in her own right as a former model, who’s been in the headlines herself due to her career as a reality TV star and a social media influencer.
Leia raised her son — whom she shares with ex Aaron Bailey — in Chicago before eventually moving her brood out West. The Just Living founder and the 50-year-old former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver, who also share 7-year-old daughter Savanna, eventually split. Details have not been publicly shared.
While Leia and Aaron continued coparenting their kids, Leia has been the NBA recruit’s No. 1 fan — frequently cheering him on courtside and on social media.
“Honestly, it’s crazy [but] it’s been a long time coming,” she gushed of her son’s success during a radio interview on Chicago’s “The Morning Show 107.5 WGCI” in March. “We left Chicago right before he was supposed to go to high school and Chicago’s paving the way for basketball … and now he’s going to UCLA, it doesn’t get any better.”
Leia, who founded her own sports marketing firm, added: “What’s so dope about UCLA is they are actually supporting their athletes [who] can actually be in uniform. So, he can wear a 10 jersey with UCLA on it and come get a check.”
After the family’s West Coast move, Amari joined the Sierra Canyon High School basketball team — alongside LeBron James’ son Bronny James. While on the team as a freshman, Amari helped the squad win the Open Division state title.
Amari’s basketball prowess even helped him earn the title of Mr. California — given to the best high school basketball player in the state — in February, and Lebron, 37, showed his support. “Congrats Nephew!!! Proud of you kid 🏆,” the Lakers athlete tweeted at the time.
Scroll down for all the details on why Leia is making her own waves as she supports her superstar son: