Jeanie Buss is the president and controlling owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and took over control of the team after the death of her father Jerry Buss. She was born on September 26, 1961, and is the third child of four born to Jerry and JoAnn Buss. Buss and her siblings grew up in Los Angeles, California.
Here’s what you need to know about Jeanie Buss’ family:
1. Jeanie Buss Was Very Close With Both of Her Parents, Jerry & JoAnn Buss, But Their Divorce Really Affected Her
Jerry and JoAnn Buss welcomed four children together: Johnny, Jimmy, Jeanie and Janie, Sports Illustrated reported. When Buss was still young, her parents divorced and her father had two more children, Joey and Jesse, with his girlfriend Karen Demel. He also became like a father to Demel’s son Sean from a previous relationship, and Sean adopted the Buss last name.
Jerry Buss’ children said he always made time for them even though he was extremely busy with his business ventures while they were growing up. However, the children all shared with the publication that their parents’ divorce had a big impact on them all.
Her brother Johnny said, “We knew Dad only as the guy who came over on weekends and took us to McDonald’s. I could never understand why he’d want to go to Las Vegas with the Playmate of the Year rather than take us to Disneyland. Even though he provided for us wonderfully, we were starved for the love of a father.”
As for Buss, she recalled feeling emotionally abandoned. When she turned 17, she ended up moving in with her father in Pickfair, a 42-room mansion in Beverly Hills. She admitted in an interview with Beverly Hills Courier that she was closer with her father than her mother, though she loved both her parents.
“My mom just was a sweetheart,” she said. “I have her laugh and anybody that met her would use the words kind and sweet smile. I like to think that’s what I got from her.” However, Buss was just drawn to her father because she loved listening in on his meetings and learning about business.
“I didn’t get enough time with him when I was growing up, he was working a lot, that was his focus, building his empire, building his wealth through real estate,” Buss told the New York Times. “But when I got out of high school, I learned there was more we could do together around sports.”
As Lakers fans know, Buss’ father died in February 2013 when he was 80 years old. The businessman had spent the last year in the hospital battling cancer. Buss’ mother JoAnn died in December 2019 at the age of 86. After her mother’s death, Buss wrote on Instagram, “it is impossible to say goodbye to the most important woman in my life. I love you mom.”
She recalled her mother going to see Lakers games during the Showtime era and said, “Sometimes she would get so nervous watching the games she would walk around the concession stands to work off the anxiety. She was quirky and charming all at the same time… She shined like the sun. We all loved her.”
2. Jeanie Buss Has 2 Older Brothers & She’s Had a Complicated Relationship With Them for a Long Time
Buss has had a difficult relationship with her brothers and it was cast in the spotlight after their father’s death when they became embroiled in a lawsuit over control of the Lakers.
A Sports Illustrated profile from 1998 about the family stated that Buss and her brother Johnny Buss had “barely spoken” since 1995 and don’t acknowledge each other despite working in the same building at the time, the Forum.
Johnny Buss pursued many different careers in the past. When he was 19 years old, he started a relationship with Australian tennis star Dianne Fromholtz and followed her on the women’s tour until she ended the relationship two years later, Sports Illustrated reported. He then enrolled in drama at the University of Southern California but didn’t stick with it and ended up working for his father and managing the Lazers of the Major Indoor Soccer League.
Johnny Buss ended up quitting after three seasons, telling the publication that he “failed.” He said he became depressed, which “had more to do with the frustrations of being the son of a famous man and being unable to find myself on my own.” He started racing Formula Three cars and said it boosted his self-confidence, but the dream was shattered when Jerry Buss “wouldn’t buy Johnny the million-dollar race car he wanted,” the youngest of the family, Janie Buss, explained.
Johnny Buss also sang in a country and western band and wrote two screenplays that haven’t been produced. He married Christy Curtis, an L.A. Clipper Girl, in 1992, and the couple later divorced, TMZ reported.
Jerry Buss’ second son, Jim Buss, also attempted various career paths when growing up. He studied at USC in math and business but ended up dropping out of the university. He then adopted a son named Jager with his first wife but the couple separated soon after and Jim Buss retained sole custody of the child. For a few years, he trained horses until Jerry Buss sold the rest of his racing horses, Sports Illustrated shared.
The Buss family drama was highlighted after Jerry Buss’ death when Buss took over the business operations and became the Lakers’ governor. Jim Buss was put in control of basketball operations but Buss ended up replacing her brother in 2017 and saying he was “unfit” to run the team.
“The way he was operating the team, we were making a nice home at the bottom of the standings year after year,” she told USA Today. “That wasn’t the brand that Dr. (Jerry) Buss created. No one has the formula to win a championship, but you always be relevant and be part of the conversation and give yourself a chance to win.”
Buss hasn’t shared where her relationship with her brothers stands today but in 2021, Johnny Buss told the New York Times that his sister “really matured” and he said he’s very proud of her, “but it doesn’t mean I’ll talk to her much.”
3. Jeanie Buss Has a Younger Sister, Janie Buss, Who Has Publicly Defended Her Sister Amid Their Family Drama
During Buss’ fight with her brothers over the Lakers, her younger sister Janie stayed by her side. In the midst of the legal battle over ownership of the team in 2017, Janie Buss told ESPN, “My vote is behind Jeanie. I’ve told her that. I’ve always had her back. There was a reason why my dad chose Jeanie. She’s guided the ship the entire time.”
She said she was really proud of Buss for putting the Lakers first and honoring her father’s wishes. “He would be sickened if he saw what was going on with my older brothers,” she said. In fact, Janie Buss told Sports Illustrated back in 1998 that her sister was the only one in the family with the business acumen to successfully lead the NBA team and that “at some level, Johnny and Jimmy must understand that.”
Buss’s younger sister Janie, who’s said she has no interest in business, told the publication that she considers herself “the best adjusted” out of the Buss kids. She has a degree in psychology and also works in the Lakers organization as the director of charitable services. She married David Drexel and the couple shares two kids, Riley and Sierra. Jerry Buss described his youngest daughter to the Los Angeles Times as “the most compassionate of all of my children. Charity is really her calling. As a mother, it’s a great fit.”
4. Jeanie Buss Has a Very Close Friendship With Her Ex-Boyfriend, Former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson
Outside of her immediate family, Buss is very close with Phil Jackson, her now-ex-fiancé. Jackson and Buss began dating soon after he arrived in Los Angeles to coach the Lakers and the couple was engaged for several years. However, they called it quits on their 16-year relationship in 2016 after Jackson moved across the country and they couldn’t maintain the long-distance relationship.
However, the two have remained close and Buss called Jackson the “most important relationship in my life” in a New York Times interview. In an Instagram caption, she wrote that Jackson was “the most influential man (outside of my family) in my life.”
Jackson lives in Los Angeles for a few months a year and Buss said she often spends time with him and he’s a great sounding board for her. “It’s not anything romantic,” she told the L.A. Times. “He’s somebody that knows this environment and knows the challenges I have and wants to see the Lakers successful, so he’s somebody I know doesn’t have any other agenda than for the Lakers to be successful, so he’s somebody that I can lean on.”
Buss credited Jackson with helping her see the team as individual people and players on and off the court, instead of just seeing them as a unit. She recalled Jackson spending hours in the bookstore before the holidays picking out books specifically for each player. She told the Beverly Hills Courier that Jackson is happy in Montana in his retirement but the two are still good friends.
5. Jeanie Buss Is Engaged to Be Married to Comedian Jay Mohr After the Couple Dated for Several Years
Buss is now engaged to be married to Jay Mohr, a comedian and actor. Mohr and Buss have been dating for several years now and they confirmed to the Los Angeles Times in December 2022 that they’d gotten engaged.
Mohr is a comedian and actor who appeared on “Saturday Night Live” in the 1990s. He was also cast as a guest star in over 50 television episodes and gained acting recognition for his movie role in “Jerry Maguire.”
The stand-up comic wears many hats as he’s written two books and created a podcast as well as a sports radio show, according to his comic bio.
Mohr has been married twice before and has two children from his past relationships.