Michael Jordan Family Mourns Loss of Father
Michael Jordan’s much-publicized life turned very private Sunday as the NBA star and his family said their goodbys to his slain father.
Family and friends who gathered for a private service at the Rockfish African Methodist Episcopal Church were urged to remember the way James Raymond Jordan lived and not the way he died.
A tearful Michael Jordan addressed about 200 mourners and spoke of the lessons he and others had learned from his father, said Johnny Williams, assistant to the church’s pastor.
“He talked mostly about what his dad taught everyone he met, and he thanked the people for coming out and showing support,” Williams told the Wilmington Morning Star.
“He said even though his dad was gone, the lessons he had taught Michael and his children and others he met would live on.”
Former North Carolina basketball star Al Wood helped carry the flag-draped casket into the red-brick church, just across from a large cornfield.
Security was tight, with the media told to stay across the road. But reporters were given a program of the service that included a message from James Jordan’s wife, Deloris, and her five children:
“The recent tragedy has brought us all here together who mourn the death of James R. Jordan. But we would be remiss if we did not also take this opportunity to celebrate his life.
“Everyone who has been touched by the warmth and strength of this special man can understand the depth of our family’s sense of loss.
“Dad is no longer with us. But the lessons which he taught us will remain with us forever and they will give us the strength to move forward with a renewed sense of purpose in our lives.”
The family arrived in two limousines, but Michael Jordan was not with them. He came in a car just before the service was scheduled to start and was ushered in a side door of the church. He stopped at the doorway to hug a deacon.
He was soon followed by his coach at the University of North Carolina, Dean Smith. Also attending the ceremony was B.J. Armstrong, a Chicago Bulls teammate.
About 100 people lined the street across from the 100-year-old church, in addition to the estimated 200 inside. Many parents brought their children, who stretched to try to get a glimpse of Michael Jordan.
The elder Jordan was buried in a small cemetery near the church, where only about 20 or 30 others are interred. He was interred next to his parents, William, who died in 1990, and Rosa Bell, who died in 1988.
Flowers next to the grave included arrangements sent by NBA players Charles Oakley of the New York Knicks and Ron Harper of the Los Angeles Clippers.