Skip to main content

In the summer of 1993, Michael Jordan seemed to have it all. He had just won his third consecutive NBA championship with the Chicago Bulls, had millions upon millions of dollars in the bank, and had become the biggest star on the planet. Tragically, his world came crashing down when the body of his father and best friend, James Jordan, was found in a creek in South Carolina in early August, 11 days after he’d gone missing. Michael Jordan retired from the NBA for the first time two months later. Although Jordan himself said at the press conference that his retirement had nothing to do with the death of his father, many still believe to this day that it was the determining factor.

Nearly 27 years later, the two men convicted in the murder, Larry Demery and Daniel Green, are both serving life sentences. However, Demery is currently eligible for parole, and Green, who has long maintained his innocence in the actual killing, will have his case reviewed next October.

James Jordan was murdered on July 23, 1993

On July 23, 1993, 56-year-old James Jordan was driving back to his home in Charlotte, North Carolina after attending a funeral in Wilmington some 200 miles away. Driving a red Lexus coupe, a gift from his son with the license plate “UNC0023” in reference to Michael Jordan’s days at the University of North Carolina, he stopped to take a nap.

11 days later, on August 3, the body of James Jordan was discovered in a creek by a fisherman near McColl, South Carolina. There was a bullet wound in the chest but the body was so badly decomposed that it could not be identified and was cremated. Two days later, the Lexus was found in a wooded area near Fayetteville, North Carolina, about 60 miles from where Jordan was found.

Before cremation, the coroner had done an immediate autopsy and preserved the dental records. On August 13, 1993, it was confirmed that the body that had been found was indeed Michael Jordan’s father. The ashes of James Jordan were buried at a small cemetery two days later.

There are conflicting stories regarding the death of Michael Jordan’s father

The death of Michael Jordan’s father was ruled a homicide and on the same day he was laid to rest, two young men, 18-year-old Daniel Green and 17-year-old Larry Demery, were arrested and charged with the murder of James Jordan.

Both were charged with first-degree murder and robbery but Demery pleaded guilty to the charges and agreed to testify against Green. Demery said in the trial that he and Green happened upon James Jordan’s Lexus in the early morning hours of July 23, 1993, but only planned to rob him. But as Jordan began to wake up, Demery claimed that Green took out a .38 and shot him in the chest.

But Daniel Green tells a different story. He says that he and Demery were at a party, which Demery left. Green says that Demery came back shaken, saying he had killed a man off the highway and needed help disposing of the body, which Green has always admitted to doing. But even to this day, Green says that he wasn’t present when James Jordan was killed. He admits to stealing the car and the possessions in it, which included gifts Michael Jordan had given to his father, one of them being an NBA championship watch.

But again, he maintains his stance that he is not the man who murdered James Jordan. He has tried numerous times to get a new trial but has been shot down every single time. Had he been simply convicted of being an accessory to murder after the fact, Green would have gotten a 10-year sentence. Instead, both he and Demery are serving life sentences. But there is a slight chance that both could be released.

Demery is currently up for parole and Green’s case will be reviewed next October

Two months ago, the North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission announced that Larry Demery, now 44 years old, was being considered for parole through the Mutual Agreement Parole Program. Initially sentenced to one life term plus 40 years, Demery was resentenced in 2008 to just the life term, which actually made him eligible for parole years ago. The New York Times recently reported that Demery was denied parole in August 2013 and October 2016. This most recent review reportedly began last August but no decision has yet been reached.

The state of North Carolina currently has structured sentencing laws that eliminate the possibility of parole for crimes such as first-degree murder. However, both Demery and Green were sentenced under previous guidelines, which is how they’re both eligible. Daniel Green becomes eligible for the first time on October 14, 2021.