Ime Udoka is benched.
The professional basketball coach, who has been engaged to actress Nia Long since 2015, was suspended from his role as Head Coach of the Boston Celtics, the team shared on Sept. 22. Hours before the announcement, ESPN, citing multiple sources, reported that Udoka was facing disciplinary action for his alleged "role in an intimate relationship with a female member of the franchise's staff."
In the Celtics' statement, the team said Udoka was suspended for the 2022-2023 season, effective immediately, due to "violations of team policies." It added, "A decision about his future with the Celtics beyond this season will be made at a later date."
Following the news, Udoka gave a statement to ESPN reporter Malika Andrews to address the situation and take accountability.
"I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down," he said. "I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team's decision."
His message concluded, "Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment."
Before joining the Celtics last year, he coached for the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs.
Udoka and Long, who reportedly met in 2010, share son Kez Sunday Udoka, 10. She's also mom to an adult son Massai Dorsey II from a previous relationship.
The actress—who appeared in Empire, The Best Man and Dear White People—hasn't publicly spoken about the suspension.
Back in May, Long celebrated Udoka's achievement when he led the Celtics to the NBA Finals in his first year as head coach. "Speechless," she wrote of her fiancé. "patience and purpose."
Most recently, she posted on her Instagram feed a photo of their son Kez starting 5th grade. She captioned the smiling photo, "There he is…my yummy baby boy!"
Years ago, Long told reporters the surprising story of how she learned she was expecting her first child with Udoka.
"I was supposed to go to Ghana to do a film and that's when I found out I was pregnant," she said at the BET Awards in 2011, where she showed off her baby bump on the red carpet. "I had a doctor's appointment to get the yellow fever shot and they were like, 'Miss Long, we can't give you a shot.'"
She said that, after learning the pregnancy news, "I almost fainted. It was the best moment and the sweetest surprise ever."
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