Actor Nia Long appreciates the concern people have shown after news broke that her fiancé, Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, had an improper relationship with a female team staff member.
“The outpouring of love and support from family, friends and the community during this difficult time means so much to me,” Long said in a statement to Boston.com. “I ask that my privacy be respected as I process the recent events. Above all, I am a mother and will continue to focus on my children.”
Long and Udoka have been in a relationship since 2010 and share a 10-year-old son. The two have been engaged since 2015, but had no plans of getting married, with Long once telling Essence.com that “marriage is not a priority.”
On Thursday night, the Celtics announced Udoka would be suspended for the entirety of the 2022-23 NBA season after an independent investigation found that the coach’s relationship with a staffer was a violation of multiple team policies.
“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down,” Udoka said in a statement to ESPN. “I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.”
At a Friday press conference, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck and president of basketball operations Brad Stevens didn’t expand onwhat the investigation found or what specific team policies Udoka violated.
While much of the coverage of Udoka’s situation centered on the sports repercussions, Long’s fans voiced their feelings about the affair on social media, with many pointing out how beloved Long is in the Black community.
Long made her first big splash as Brandi in John Singleton’s 1991 film, “Boyz N the Hood.” She landed a guest spot on “Living Single” in 1993, and a year later she had a recurring role in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Long starred alongside Ice Cube and Chris Tucker in F. Gary Gray’s “Friday” in 1995.
Podcaster and Oscar-winning producer Van Lathan Jr. tweeted, “Nia Long has an 100% approval rating with Black America and Ime Udoka is about to understand that.”
Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) shared a message of support for the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” actor.
“Sending nothing but love to Nia Long. We’re not letting a man, who didn’t recognize the luxury her presence was, dim all her beauty and glory,” he wrote. “Matter of fact, we need a Nia Long national holiday!”
User @queenveej wrote, “Sad part is Nia Long don’t even be in no mess and now this man got her name everywhere while she just trying to film the last Best Man in peace.”
Below are some more tweets in support of Long.