Related Biography: Father James Jordan
James Jordan was in the habit of driving long distances overnight, stopping only for brief naps in his car, rather than staying in hotels. "Oh, I know he's stopped in Lumberton before," his brother, Gene Jordan, told Kevin Paul Dupont in the Boston Globe after James's death. "I'm sure he's pulled over at that exact spot before. A hotel room? That wasn't James, uhuh. After Michael's fame and everything, people used to ask him, 'Are you going to get a bodyguard? He'd laugh at that. Stopping at the side of the road was nothing for my brother. He didn't think anything of it. He figured he didn't have an enemy in the world."
Not enemies, but thieves took James Jordan's life as he napped in his car on a Lumberton, North Carolina roadside in the early morning hours of July 23, 1993. James Jordan was on his way home from the funeral of a former coworker at the General Electric plant where he used to work. After the killing shot to the chest, the thieves took off in James Jordan's car, later stripping it, and then dumping Jordan's body in a nearby creek, where it was found a week and a half later. Jordan would have turned 57 less than two weeks after the day he died. "The world's lost a good man," Gene Jordan told Dupont.
James Raymond Jordan was born on July 31, 1936 in rural North Carolina, the first child born to sharecropper William Jordan and his wife Rosa Bell Jordan. He began a career at General Electric in 1967, moving up to become a parts department manager. He retired from GE in the late 1980s, at which time the Jordan family moved from Wilmington, North Carlolina, where Michael Jordan grew up, to the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Those who knew both James and Michael Jordan noted that Michael was very much like his father. Both had shaved heads, and both stuck their tongues out when concentrating on a difficult task—in Michael's case, when lining up a shot. Their handwriting was alike enough that many people couldn't tell them apart. Proud supporters of Michael Jordan's basketball playing from the beginning, James Jordan and his wife, Michael's mother Deloris, never missed a game Michael played in during his time at the University of North Carolina.
James Jordan was buried alongside his grandfather and parents in the graveyard of the Rockfish African Methodist Episcopal Church in Teachey, North Carolina. His tombstone reads simply, as reported by Dupont, "James Jordan, 1936-1993."