A March Madness family affair: Mom and son are both in NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen
Jaden Ivey is a standout guard at Purdue University, and his mom, Niele, is head coach of the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball team. Both teams are so far undefeated in this year’s NCAA tournaments, having reached the men’s and women’s Sweet Sixteen.
“Since I could remember, you know, I always had a ball in my hand,” Jaden said.
Niele was playing in the WNBA when Jaden was born. Their lives have been intertwined by basketball ever since, with Niele serving as both coach and mom.
“I’m screaming, you know, and just encouraging words because I know he can hear me,” Niele said. “I’m just so proud because I know how hard he worked to get to this point.”
Jaden was by his mom’s side when she was introduced as head coach at Notre Dame, her alma mater.
“I’m her biggest fan and, you know, her biggest supporter. I knew that was a special moment for her,” he said. “I wish I, you know, could’ve spent more time with her at home. But I knew the work that she had to do. I think it’s made the both of us better.”
Like any mom, Niele still wonders if she did enough.
“He sacrificed a lot,” she said. “Sometimes I get emotional about it because I know it was hard for him. It was hard for him. I missed so much and now I get a chance to see, and he gets a chance to see, like there’s a reason why it was hard.”
They are driven not just by love of the game, but for each other.
Purdue will face off against St. Peter’s on Friday night for a spot in the Elite 8. The third-seeded Purdue is the favorite to win the game — but St. Peter’s, a 15 seed from New Jersey, has already toppled Kentucky and Murray State in a series of unlikely, bracket-busting wins.