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|James R. Jordan Sr.|
July 31, 1936|
Wallace, North Carolina, U.S.
July 23, 1993 (aged 56)|
Lumberton, North Carolina, U.S.
|Cause of death||Murder by gunshot|
|Body discovered||August 3, 1993 in McColl, South Carolina, U.S.|
|Resting place||Rockfish AME Church Cemetery|
|Other names||Ray Jordan|
|Education||Charity High School|
|Known for||Father of Michael Jordan|
Deloris Peoples (m. 1956–1993)
|Children||5; including Michael Jordan|
Jeffrey Jordan (grandson)|
Marcus Jordan (grandson)
James Jordan Sr. was born in Wallace, North Carolina on July 31, 1936. While attending Charity High School, he met Deloris Peoples. The two began dating and remained together for the next three years. Upon graduation, Jordan Sr. joined the Air Force and was stationed in San Antonio. In 1956, he transferred to a base in Virginia and married Peoples shortly thereafter. Their first child, son James Ronald “Ronnie” Jr., was born the following year. Jordan Sr. decided to leave the Air Force and got a job at a textile mill in Wallace. The Jordans had two more children: daughter Deloris and a son, Larry.
In 1963, the Jordans left their children with Jordan Sr.’s mother and moved to Brooklyn so that he could receive mechanic's training on the G.I. Bill. He studied airplane hydraulics, while Peoples found work at a local bank. While living in Brooklyn, the Jordans had another child, son Michael. As crime began to increase in Brooklyn in the 60s, the Jordans decided to move back to North Carolina in order to raise their children in a safer environment. Upon completing his 18 month training, Jordan Sr. and his family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. It was there that their fifth child, Roslyn, was born.
A lifelong basketball fan, Jordan Sr. played a large role in inspiring his son Michael to become an athlete and traveled the United States to follow his son’s career, first at the University of North Carolina and then with the Chicago Bulls.
Nonetheless, Jordan Sr. was also a very big baseball fan, having gone semi-pro himself. In his autobiography and in interviews throughout his career, son Michael recounted that it was his father's vision that he become a baseball star. Baseball was in fact the first sport that Jordan Sr. had taught him to play. Michael recounted that this was a major factor in his decision to switch to the sport after his first NBA retirement.
On July 23, 1993, while returning home from a funeral, Jordan Sr. pulled over on US Highway 74 just south of Lumberton, North Carolina, to take a nap. Daniel Andre Green and Larry Martin Demery spotted the car Michael had recently purchased for him (a red Lexus SC400 with the North Carolina license plate that read "UNC0023"). Green and Demery shot Jordan to death while he slept in his car, then stole the vehicle. His body was found on August 3 in a swamp in McColl, South Carolina. As his body was in a state of extreme decomposition, Jordan Sr. was not positively identified until August 13 with the help of dental records provided by the family dentist.
After going through Jordan Sr.’s belongings, Green and Demery realized that Jordan Sr. was the father of Michael Jordan. They had taken other items from the car, including two NBA championship rings given to Jordan Sr. by his son. Green and Demery made several calls from Jordan's cell phone and as a result were immediately captured. After their arrest, Demery said that they had planned only to tie up their victim and that Green pulled the trigger for no reason. Both were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for this and other violent crimes. James Jordan Sr. was buried at Rockfish AME Church in Teachey, North Carolina, on August 15, 1993. Court rulings that affected North Carolina like Enmund v. Florida, 458 U.S. 782 (1982) prohibited application of the death penalty. The accusation was based only on Demery's testimony, when Green did not testify. Defense counsel Woodberry Bowen said Demery had everything to gain by lying that Green was the triggerman, and that Green's testimony put Demery closer than he earlier admitted.
In 2010, it was revealed the case was one of nearly 200 that were in review after the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation found that laboratory technicians mishandled or omitted evidence. However, the Jordan case was later removed from the list.
On July 23, 2018, Christine Mumma, executive director of the Center on Actual Innocence, said evidence showed Green did not commit the murder. Green claimed Demery merely asked him for help disposing of the body. On August 3, Superior Court Judge Winston Gilchrist ruled on several motions and set a December date for a hearing.
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