Ime Udoka is a Nigerian-American basketball coach and former player who currently serves as the head coach of the Boston Celtics in the NBA. Like Darvin Ham and many other coaches in the NBA today, Udoka did not have a stellar playing career. He was traded from one NBA team to another and at some point, he headed overseas to try his hand.
After about 12 years, Udoka called time on his playing career to start coaching. He was taken under the wings of one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, under whom he learned his trade. The young coach would later move on to take assistant coaching jobs at the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets before he was hired as the head coach of the Celtics in 2021.
Ime Udoka Biography Summary
- Full Name: Ime Sunday Udoka
- Date of Birth: August 9, 1977
- Place of Birth: Portland, Oregon
- Ethnicity: Mixed
- Nationality: American / Nigerian
- Height: 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m)
- Weight: 220 lbs (100 kg)
- Marital Status: Engaged
- Partner: Nia Long
- Children: Kez Sunday Udoka
- Parents: Agnes and Vitalis Udoka
- Siblings: Mfon (sister)
Ime Udoka’s Father was Nigerian while His Mother was American
Ime Udoka’s father, Vitalis Udoka, was a Nigerian from Akwa Ibom State in the southern part of the West African country. His mother Agnes on the other hand was an American from Illinois. Both of his parents have since passed away; his father died in 2006 while his mother passed away five years later in 2011.
Despite being born in the United States, Ime qualified for Nigerian citizenship as a result of his father’s origins. He was then able to play for the Nigerian national team, competing in various tournaments, including the 2005 FIBA Africa Championships, 2006 FIBA World Championships, and 2011 FIBA Africa Championships.
Udoka’s Sister Mfon is a Basketball Coach and former WNBA Player
Ime Udoka has an older sister named Mfon. Like him, she was also a professional basketball player and played for the Nigerian women’s national basketball team at the international level. Following her playing career, she tried her hands at coaching, serving as the assistant coach of the Nigerian women’s team.
Mfon started playing basketball in high school at Benson Polytechnic High School in Portland. Upon graduating in 1994, she enrolled at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois where she played for four years before joining the Detroit Shock of the WNBA. After a year, she had a stint overseas in Portugal before returning stateside to play in the National Women’s Basketball League (NWBL) for the Birmingham Power.
Other teams Ime’s sister played for both in the United States and abroad include Electra Ramat HaSharon in Israel, Harbin in China, Chicago Blaze in the NWBL, Houston Comets, and Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA and Tarbes Gespe Bigorre of France’s Ligue Féminine de Basketball. In between playing for these teams, she played in Spain, Turkey, and Russia.
Udoka Played College Basketball for Three Different Institutions Before Turning Pro
After playing basketball at Jefferson High School, Ime Udoka enrolled at Utah State Eastern University. He played for the team from 1995 to 1997 when he transferred to the University of San Francisco. His time in the Bay Area was short-lived as just a year later he was on the move again.
Udoka transferred to Portland State University and played for the Vikings from 1999 to 2000. The athlete was a star on the team and garnered attention from scouts, however, was not deemed good to be drafted.
His Pro Career Started in Argentina Before He was Drafted into the National Basketball Development League (G-League)
After going undrafted in the 2000 NBA Draft, Ime Udoka played for Fargo-Moorhead Beez in the now-defunct International Basketball Association. In 2001, he played for Independiente in Argentina before he was drafted by the Charleston Lowgators with the 39th overall pick in the 2002 NBDL Draft.
Ime Udoka’s career would see him play for various lower league teams in the United States. He would also play overseas in Europe in countries like France and Spain. His first NBA team was the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004 but he was later waived. He would go on to have stints with other NBA teams like the New York Knicks (2006), Portland Trail Blazers (2006–2007), San Antonio Spurs (2007–2009), and Sacramento Kings (2009–2010).
Udoka called time on his career in 2012 and immediately became a coach.
He was an Assistant Coach for Almost a Decade Before Becoming a Head Coach
Ime Udoka’s coaching career started in 2012 with one of the teams he played for; the San Antonio Spurs. He served as an assistant coach for Gregg Popovich and through this role won his first NBA Championship in 2014.
After seven years with the franchise, Udoka moved on to join the coaching staff of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019. He served as an assistant to Brett Brown, another one of Popovich’s former students. In 2020, Ime joined the Brooklyn Nets as an assistant coach. he would also spend a year with the team before moving on again. Thankfully, his next role was as the head coach of the Boston Celtics.
Ime Udoka is Engaged to Actress Nia Long
Ime Udoka is not married but has been engaged to actress Nia Long for a very long time. The basketball coach and the actress who is best known for her role in films like Boyz n the Hood (1991) and the Big Momma’s House film series, got engaged in 2015. While they have stated that they do not intend to make things official, they have welcomed a son.
Ime and Nia are parents to Kez Sunday Udoka who was born in May 2015.