Skip to content
Pistons’ Jaden Ivey cried over 2022 NBA draft moment

Jaden Ivey’s NBA career started with tears streaming down his face.

After being taken by the Detroit Pistons with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft on Thursday night, Ivey broke down crying and hugged his mother, the former WNBA star and the Notre Dame head coach Niele Ivey.

The 20-year-old Purdue product was able to pull himself together by joining curator Adam Silver on stage, although it didn’t last long. He got choked up again when ESPN played him a surprise congratulatory message from Arike Ogunbowale – a former player for his mother at Notre Dame.

“I just want to say congratulations on getting drafted in the first round,” Ogunbowale said in the pre-recorded video. “It’s crazy, I even say that – just being this little boy growing up, wanting to be in the gym all the time, working on his game every day to become this young man, superstar athlete.

“You are about to go crazy in the league. I firmly believe that you are truly on the verge of taking over this lease. I love you, I’m proud of you, it’s time for you to go crazy. I’m always in your corner.

Jaden Ivey broke down in tears during the 2022 NBA draft.

WNBA stars like Ogunbowale and Skylar Diggins-Smith played a role in young Ivey’s development as he traveled with his mother, assistant coach of Muffet McGraw’s Irish program from 2007-19 before becoming head coach.

The moment left the new Piston reaching for tissues and thanking his mother.

“Oh man, that [is] everything,” he told ESPN after being drafted as his voice wavered. “I worked day in and day out to get to this level. I know I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her. I’m so happy.

Niele, who also counts Grizzlies star Ja Morant among her proteges, was able to hold on for their ESPN moment, smiling broadly as she sat next to her son.

“I’m almost speechless, it’s his dream come true,” she said. “Being in Detroit, [we] have so many Detroit roots. To be able to walk on this stage… I’m so happy, I’m so happy for him… I’m enjoying everything.