Klay Thompson grew up in an athletic family, the son of two-time NBA champion Mychal Thompson and with two brothers who also became pro athletes. His mother, Julie Thompson, is also athletically gifted as she was a star volleyball player in college.
Here’s what you need to know about Klay Thompson’s mother Julie Thompson:
1. Klay Thompson’s Mother Julie Thompson Grew Up Playing Sports & Was a College Volleyball Star
Julie Thompson, née Julie Leslie, was raised in Ridgefield, Washington, along with two brothers. From a young age, she loved sports, pursuing gymnastics first until she gave it up in high school to focus on volleyball. Julie Thompson graduated from Ridgefield High School in 1982 on the heels of two back-to-back seasons in which they finished second in the state (1980 and 1981), the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
She was also a talented track and field star, winning the state Class-A long jump. The young woman had several options for college but she chose the University of Portland because she wanted a school that focused on academics rather than athletics, she told the Chronicle.
Her coach, Steve Pickering, told the Chronicle that Thompson, “athletically, is as good as anybody I’ve ever coached.” She transferred to the University of San Francisco after two years at Portland and eventually graduated from that college.
Julie Thompson’s husband and children are the first to say that she’s the top athlete in the Thompson family. Her husband, Mychal Thompson, told the Los Angeles Times, “She’s the best athlete in the family, and all the boys will tell you that.” In fact, after he signed with the Warriors, Thompson joked to The Spokesman-Review, “Our dad used to just loaf down the court. We got our height thanks to him. But our athleticism came from mom.”
2. Julie Thompson Met Mychal Thompson at the University of Portland Gym & the Couple Got Married in 1987
Before she transferred from the University of Portland to San Francisco, Julie Thompson met her future husband Mychal Thompson at the school gym. “I think on one of our first dates, Mychal said, ‘Hey, we would have an All-American,’” she laughed in an interview with The Columbian. “I was like, ‘Oh brother.’ I just rolled my eyes.”
The couple tied the knot in 1987 and went on to have three sons: Mychel Thompson, born on June 1, 1988; Klay Thompson, born February 8, 1990; and Trayce Thompson, born March 15, 1991. The house was always extremely rowdy with the boys’ games when they were growing up and their uncle recalled several broken windows and damaged furniture.
Julie Thompson’s brother John Leslie, who was very present around the home when the boys’ father was on the road for work, admitted to Bleacher Report in an interview that “My sister was big on naturopathy but not necessarily safety.” He described the Thompson family home as “piles of athletic shoes and broken windows.”
According to Leslie, the three boys were always running around playing one sport or another. He recalled his sister telling him that she’d bought them six swords at a toy store and within a day they were all broken.
When Thompson was 14 years old, the family moved from Portland to Orange County’s Ladera Ranch for Mychal Thompson to pursue a work opportunity doing the Los Angeles Lakers radio broadcasts, ESPN reported.
3. Julie Thompson Didn’t Put Pressure on Her Sons to Pursue Athletics & Said She Just Wants to See Them Happy
Although the three boys grew up the sons of athletes, Julie Thompson made it clear that there was no pressure on them to follow in their footsteps. She told the Los Angeles Times that they were all “late bloomers” and she actually put them in gymnastics class early on since they were always jumping from everything.
She said she let her kids decide what they wanted to do. The mother of three recounted seeing parents at school games that put too much pressure on their children as they tried to live out their dreams through their kids. “You can’t want it more than they do,” she pointed out to the Times. “You can’t want it more than the child.”
Even now that they’re professional athletes, she said nothing’s changed. In addition to Warriors star Thompson, her eldest son, Mychel Thompson, retired from professional basketball a few years ago after playing in the NBA G League (then known as the NBA D-League), while the youngest, Trayce Thompson, is an outfielder with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Julie Thompson’s goal is simply to see her sons happy, she told the Times.
“When I call, if I can hear the smile in their voice, then I’m OK,” she added. Fame hasn’t changed them either, the mother of three pointed out, explaining that they’ll still walk into her house and immediately look for food. And what’s perhaps the biggest sign that nothing’s changed was a comment made by Thompson in a 2019 ESPN interview when he said his mom buys his clothes.
He said his teammate Andre Iguodala was the best dressed on the Warriors team and that Iguodala’s wife and his own mother “go shopping together for us,” adding, “They have good senses of style.”
4. Julie Thompson Graduated With an Accounting Degree & Is the President & Co-Founder of the Thompson Family Foundation
Julie Thompson graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, her biography reads on her family’s foundation’s website. The Thompson Family Foundation was founded in 2017, with all five Thompsons listed as co-founders and with Julie Thompson listed as its president.
The goal of the organization is to promote fitness and education among youths in the United States and the Bahamas, where Mychal Thompson was born and raised. “The foundation keeps in mind three key goals: support the lives of all youth no matter their background, teach children the importance of teamwork through athletics, and show children the importance of pursuing an education outside of their athletic goals,” its website states.
In addition to her work as the president and co-founder of the Thompson Family Foundation, Julie Thompson is also passionate about health, nutrition and naturopathy. Her brother, John Leslie, told Bleacher Report she valued naturopathy and teaching her sons about healthy eating, while her husband told the Chronicle that she taught them about yoga, stretching and proper running techniques.
Julie Thompson is much less often in the public eye compared to her famous husband and sons and told The Columbian that she was totally fine with keeping the spotlight on her husband. She said she didn’t like interviews and described herself to Bleacher Report as “really guarded.”
Family is what really matters to her and she said she wants to be a safe, private place for Thompson when the attention gets to be too much. “I try to be the one person who doesn’t give him extra attention,” she shared. “I want to be the one he can come to and just talk if that’s what he needs.”
5. Klay Thompson Shared an Emotional Message to His Mother When He Collected His 4th NBA Championship Ring
Thompson and his mother definitely have a close bond and the NBA star gave a shout-out to her in October 2022 as he collected his 4th NBA championship ring with the Warriors. “I’m going to keep this short and sweet,” he started. “We love you with all of our hearts. We were standing here last summer in this empty arena and were thinking damn, it could use a [new] banner. The vision came to fruition and now we’re here and I just want to send a special shout out to my mother.”
He said she couldn’t be there for the game in person but that she was watching and he told her, “I love you so much mom, thanks for everything,” he said as he tapped his heart. “I love you.”
As for his mother, she said she loves watching her son “do something he loves,” she told The Columbian. “And, of course, I think he’s really good at it.”