Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York, but he grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina. As a kid, he dealt with racism in his neighborhood, making it difficult to move around freely.
Jordan had a white friend growing up by the name of Dave Bridgers. His father reached out to Bridgers in South Dakota and almost made him an adopted son.
Bridgers was basically like Jordan’s third brother, and he played a big role in helping him deal with racism.
Michael Jordan faced racism as a kid at pool parties
During an interview with Tim Russert in 2000, Jordan talked about how he faced racism as a kid at pool parties. He and Bridgers would go swimming at a white party, and the kids got out of the pool once he jumped in.
After Bridgers saw how disrespectful the other kids were toward Jordan, he left the pool with his friend.
“It was situations where we used to go to other pools, and he would take me, and as soon as I get in the pool, they would get out of the pool,” Jordan said. “He and I would get up and leave. We would leave that house because he felt like if I wasn’t welcome, he wasn’t welcome.”
Jordan was fortunate to have a strong white friend with him growing up in North Carolina. That level of support helped him gain the confidence he needed to excel in sports in middle school and high school.
Michael Jordan became a superstar after not making the varsity team as a sophomore
During his sophomore year of high school at Emsley A. Laney, Jordan didn’t make the varsity team. He went home to his mother and thought about quitting basketball for good.
However, Jordan vowed to use that cut as motivation, and the rest is history. He dominated his competition during his junior and senior years and played his college basketball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Jordan averaged 13.5 points per game as a freshman and hit the game-winning shot over Georgetown in the National Championship Game. In the Last Dance docuseries, he said his shot against the Hoyas turned his name from “Mike” to “Michael.”
After averaging 20.0 points as a sophomore and 19.6 as a junior, Jordan declared for the 1984 NBA draft. The Bulls selected him with the third overall pick and were excited about his talent.
However, no one saw what Jordan accomplished in the NBA coming.
MJ turned into the GOAT
Jordan made an immediate impact in the NBA with the Bulls. He won the 1984-85 Rookie of the Year Award by averaging 28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists.
After playing in 18 games in his second year due to a broken foot, Jordan played in all 82 games in a season seven games, with six of those coming with the Bulls. He averaged 31.5 points with Chicago and won six championships, six Finals MVPs, five regular-season MVPs, 10 scoring titles, and one Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Jordan played 142 games with the Washington Wizards after coming out of retirement for the second time in 2001. He averaged 21.2 points and scored 51 points on December 29, 2001, against the Charlotte Hornets at 39 years old.
A 14-time All-Star, Jordan finished his NBA career with averages of 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists. As of 2021, he has a net worth of over 1.6 billion.
Not bad for a kid from Wilmington, North Carolina.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.