JTA — The NBA’s small roster of Jewish cagers added a new name on Thursday night, as Amari Bailey, a guard from the University of California Los Angeles, was drafted 41st overall by the Charlotte Hornets.
Bailey, 19, a former five-star recruit who played at the prestigious prep school Sierra Canyon High School, personally identifies as Jewish, his agent Bernie Lee confirmed to The Forward without providing more detail.
Bailey’s Jewish heritage comes from his mother, an influencer who goes by Johanna Leia (real surname Edelberg) and who had a widely-publicized fling with Jewish rapper Drake in 2021. Bailey’s father is former NFL wide receiver Aaron Bailey.
After a standout career at Sierra Canyon, Bailey committed to UCLA as one of the top prospects in the country. He made the Pac-12’s All-Freshman team and declared for the draft after his freshman year.
Bailey joins Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija, the highest-drafted Israeli player in the NBA, and Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis, whose wife announced earlier this year that he was converting to Judaism.
Former Yeshiva University standout Ryan Turell, who seeks to be the first Orthodox Jew in the league, is currently playing for the Motor City Cruise, the G League affiliate of the Detroit Pistons.
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And over in the WNBA, former Maryland star Abby Meyers, who was cut shortly after being drafted 11th overall this spring, has joined the Washington Mystics on an emergency contract.
Bailey’s new team, the Hornets, is in the process of being sold by basketball legend Michael Jordan to a group led by Jewish millionaires Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall.