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Meet The Mom Of Basketball Star Amari Bailey, Johanna Leia

The 190-pound shooting guard Amari Bailey from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins is finally and officially an NBA player. Amari Bailey was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 2023, and this not-so-easy feat was made possible with the support of his fiercest cheerleader and mom, Johanna Leia. 

Here’s everything you should know about her. 

Johanna Leia is a Single Mom 

Former Ford model and influencer Johanna Leia shares a son, Amari, and a daughter, Savanna, with former football wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts, Aaron Bailey. Details about their marriage and subsequent split haven’t been publicly shared, but all the fans know that they have been co-parenting their two kids for quite some time now. 

Amari’s career started at Sierra Canyon High School basketball team after their family’s big move to the West Coast. There, he played with LeBron James’ son, Bronny James. Even though he was just a freshman, his skill on the court helped his team win the Open Division state title. 

In an Instagram post in May 2020, Amari gave his mom the whole three-point praise. “Being a single mother, I always wondered how you’ve been able to do the stuff that you’ve done for our family,” he said. 

He then went on to thank her for keeping their beautiful family as one unit. It had been a roller coaster journey for them, and none of this was sweet at all. However, every day, he was grateful for her resiliency in their life. 

The young athlete also thanked her for having the much-needed conversations with him even though he didn’t want to have them or hear them, for allowing him to cry on her shoulders, and for being his best friend despite other people’s opinions (and he wouldn’t have it any other way). He then continued, saying not many people, if any, could say they had a mother like him. 

Amari signed off his message with an adorable “I love you” for his mama bear.

Leia has actively supported Amari in his career as a baller. She was always cheering for him from the courtside, and she made sure that she took all the steps to give her son the best possible outcome in the sport. 

Johanna Leia Owns a Sports Marketing Firm 

Leia was (and still is) known for her modeling stint and her social media platform. She’s also had her share of headlines in her career. 

Now, she is more popular as the mom of rising basketball star Amari Bailey, who the Charlotte Hornets have since drafted. She has also built a very successful career for herself in the sports industry with her marketing firm, Just Living Agency, which focuses on managing up-and-coming athletes. 

In a radio interview with Chicago’s The Morning Show 107.5 WGCI, she gushed about her son’s success. She said that it was honestly crazy, but she knew it was a long time coming. 

She said they left Chicago right before Amari was supposed to enter high school, and the state has been paving the way for basketball. But things worked out for the best for them as he was able to get into his dream school, UCLA. 

According to the entrepreneur, UCLA has been great in supporting the athletes wearing their uniforms. “So, he can wear a 10 jersey with UCLA on it and come get a check,” she said. 

In fact, according to Sam Cannon of Fan Nation, UCLA athletes can earn up to $5,980 per annum through the brand-new Bruin Academic and Service Achievement award announced last August 2022. 

A month prior, they launched the Men of Westwood, the NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) collective for the Bruins, to cultivate, foster, and facilitate NIL opportunities with businesses, donors, and fans to create player success on and off the court. 

Johanna Leia Built Amari Bailey’s Platform 

Leia said that her son’s success was a long time coming. That’s because she prepared for it and set him up for it. 

Long before college scouts came knocking at their door, Leia had already brought the spotlight on Amari by participating in Lifetime’s reality show Bringing Up Ballers in 2017. 

The show followed five families based in Chicago in their journey supporting their up-and-coming basketball player sons. Basically, it was like watching a crossover between Basketball Wives and Dance Moms, featuring the classic clashing moms behind the scenes. 

While the show didn’t really pick up as the next big reality hit and immediately got canceled, it still gave enough space for the audience to see how special Amari was. He was only 12 at the time while the other four featured players were already in their teens – and he proved that he could take on the best. 

He became a five-star recruit, and he attracted big-deal attention before he was even due to go to high school. In eighth grade, Amari committed to playing for De Paul University, but he withdrew after a year. 

Then, when he entered his freshman year in high school, he committed to UCLA. He changed his mind when he found out coach Steve Alford was fired, but he still ended up signing with the UCLA Bruins on February 17, 2021. 

Just last June 23, 2023, he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in the 2nd round of the 2023 NBA Draft. as the 41st overall pick. Then, on July 15, he inked a two-way contract with them. 

Johanna Leia’s Romantic Life is Filled with Much Noise and Rumors 

There’s no denying that Leia is a catch, which is probably why she has been romantically linked to several big names like Drake and Ja Morant.  

The rumors between Leia and Drake first sparked around 2021, but no hard evidence that they ever dated was released. A year later, numerous websites alleged that the rapper had a falling out with the NBA star after he snatched his “girlfriend.” 

According to the stories, it all started with Morant liking Leia’s Instagram posts. They started talking in the DMs, and then she eventually followed him. After that, reports about Leia attending Morant’s games and him flying her out to his games became viral in the community. Like her dating rumors with Drake, this “relationship” wasn’t proven. 

Amari Bailey’s mom, Johanna Leia’s only relationship that everyone knew about was with basketball player Alfonzo McKinnie. The two had been engaged but didn’t make it down the aisle. 

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