Monique James Is ‘Mother of Champions’ — Meet Gary Payton’s Ex-wife and Their 3 Kids
Monique James divorced her NBA star husband. The woman who calls herself the "mother of champions" raised her three children while launching a foundation and starting a nonprofit.
Monique James, the ex-wife of NBA star Gary Payton, frequently posts images of her children or herself on Instagram, and it appears they have a very close bond.
She is a fan of her son Gary, who is following in his dad's footsteps as a basketball player. Besides being a supportive mom, she is also a caring grandmother to her daughter Raquel's son.
James also pursues her passion as an artist when she is not spending time with her grandson, whom she said she couldn't breathe without. In 2022, the proud mother shared the first painting she drew for her son.
The mother of three is also a co-host on the "Outta Pocket Radio Show," where they talk about sports.
MONIQUE JAMES IS VERY SPORTY AND ACTIVE
James ran track when she was younger, doing the high and long jump. Marc Spears, a writer, described her as the most athletic in her class and a basketball star in her own right.
When she attended Skyline High School in Oakland, she played basketball for the school's team and ran 100 meters, 200 meters, and hurdles.
Monique James at Shaquille O'Neal's pre-season party on October 20, 2003 | Source: Getty Images
Not only was she good at sports, but she was also the best among her friends. In an interview, James said:
"I had the highest vertical leap amongst the girls in high school. And I was the fastest. So when we did up and back [running exercises], I was the fastest. Always first."
Today, she talks about sports on her radio show on YouTube, shows off her skills as an artist, often spends time with her grandson, goes out with her children as often as she can, and consistently works out.
If you search for "Monique James" on Google, you will find many results related to the name. However, Gary Payton's ex-wife is not a psychiatrist, nor is she an agent whose company helped launch the careers of many famous stars.
Monique James at the 11th Annual Angel Awards Hosted by Project Angel Food on August 21, 2004 | Source: Getty Images
MONIQUE JAMES AND GARY PAYTON'S WEDDING CEREMONY
James married her ex-husband on July 26, 1997. they had already been together for almost ten years and had two children at the time. They welcomed their third child, a son named Julian, after their wedding.
They had a lavish ceremony with over 400 guests and spent about $200,000. Despite the number of guests who graced the occasion, the NBA star's long-time Seattle SuperSonics teammate, Shawn Kemp, was absent due to conflicts Kemp had with the team's managers.
Due to her husband's numerous infidelities, James filed for divorce, and they finally split up in 2012. Years later, the 8-time NBA All-Star revealed how much he regretted what he did that led to their separation.
In 2016, when they inducted him into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, he invited his ex-wife to accompany him.
During an interview, Payton admitted that at the time they separated, he wasn't at his best. He said, "I wasn't the best guy in the world. If I could, I'd change the hurt I caused my ex-wife. She was there before all the fame... She did so much for me. She deserves to be a part of this."
Gary Payton and Monique James at the opening of Jay-Z's 40/40 Club on December 30, 2007 | Source: Getty Images
ABOUT MONIQUE JAMES'S EX-HUSBAND, NBA STAR GARY PAYTON
Best known by the name "The Glove," Gary Dwayne Payton was born in 1968 and has been recognized as one of the most determined defenders in the history of the NBA.
Named Defensive Player of the Year in 1996, his career began with the Seattle SuperSonics after he was selected second overall in the 1990 NBA draft.
Gary Payton on the court during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 21, 2004 I Source: Getty Images
From the beginning, he teamed up with Shawn Kemp, and though they did not win any championships, they led the team to higher levels.
In 2003 Payton was signed by the Lakers as a free agent. In 2005 he played with Miami Heat. When he was paired with Shaquille O'Neal, the team won the NBA title in 2006.
MONIQUE JAMES, THE "MOTHER OF CHAMPIONS"
James's first son, Gary Dwayne Payton II, was born in 1992. Since his father is called "The Glove," he refers to himself as "The Mitten." The Portland Trail Blazers guard started playing basketball in high school and was part of the swim team.
Being as good as his mother in sports, he improved his school's basketball team points at Salt Lake Community College in Utah before transferring to Oregon State. While there, he became the first two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
When James's first son was named the season-long winner of the Bob Lanier Community Assist Award for 2021-22, she was proud of his achievements and penned an emotional essay. She said:
"The graciousness and selflessness it takes to win such an award — all I can say is I am so proud. And I love you, my little G, and I am so excited for what is in store for you. You are just beginning. You will do even more great work."
James wrote that she believes her son will impact people's lives in a meaningful way, and his career would only experience upward growth.
James's last child is Julian Payton. In 2019, he gave his mother a scare after he was involved in an accident. Three years later, James took to Instagram to reveal that her son survived by the grace of God because He had plans for him.
Over the years, James has proven that she will plan her life around her kids. As her family continues to expand and include grandchildren, her love for them also grows.