Actress Nia Long has made her first statement following the year-long suspension of her longtime partner, Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka.
In a statement emailed to Boston.com Friday morning, the award-winning actress asked for privacy to “process recent events” and vowed to “continue to focus” on her children.
“The outpouring [of] Love and support from family, friends and the community mean so much to me during this difficult time,” Long said. “I ask that my privacy be respected as I process the recent events. Most importantly, I am a mother and will continue to focus on my children.”
The Celtics officially announced Udoka’s suspension Thursday night for “violations” of team policy. A League source told the Globe that Udoka was in an inappropriate consensual relationship with a female member of the organization.
Long, known for films like The Best Man, Boyz N the Hood and Soul Food, first met Udoka in February 2010 in Boston. Back then, Long was doing a pilot for NBC, and Udoka, then a Sacramento Kings player played against the Celtics.
Long and Udoka chatted in a hotel lobby until 1 a.m. and then went to dinner at a North End Italian restaurant the next night. The pair quickly became a couple, and Long gave birth to the couple’s son, Kez, in November 2011. (Long has another son, Maasai, 21, from a previous relationship with actor Maasai Z. Dorsey, Sr.)
Long and Udoka confirmed their engagement in 2015 but never married. Long has spoken numerous times over the years about not feeling the need to tie the knot.
“I understand the religious aspect of marriage,” Long said during a 2020 appearance on Essence’s Yes Girl podcast. “This is beautiful and it’s fantastic and it’s dreamy and it’s every girl’s fantasy to have this moment. But I don’t know if I need that.”
In the past, Long has often shared glimpses of her relationship with Udoka on social media. share photos of the couple at Disneyland after Maasai graduated from high school and Celebrate Kez’s birthday. On May 30, Long shared a video of her celebrating as Udoka and the Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals.
Following the team’s announcement of his suspension, Udoka issued a statement to ESPN’s Malika Andrews apologizing for putting the Celtics “in this difficult situation.”
“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization and my family for letting them down,” said Udoka. “I’m sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation and I accept the team’s decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will not comment further.”