Russell Westbrook and his wife Nina have been together since college
Russell Westbrook may be a nine-time NBA All-Star, but off the court, the pro-baller is a family man.
On Aug. 29, 2015, Russell married his college sweetheart, Nina Westbrook, in an intimate, outdoor ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Almost two years later, in May 2017, the couple welcomed their first child together, son Noah Russell Westbrook. In September 2018, the pair announced that they were expecting again — this time with twins! Their daughters, Skye and Jordyn, were born two months later.
In November 2022, Russell spoke to PEOPLE about being a father of three, saying it is what he is "most proud of." He also praised his wife's "constant sacrifice" throughout his career.
"She's been holding s--- down from start to finish, and now been able to see her grow into the things that she's been wanting to do while still supporting me and doing stuff with the kids, and doing this and doing that," he said of Nina. "I'm just grateful to have a partner able to do all that sacrifice. Now we're here."
So who is Nina Westbrook? Here's everything to know about Russell Westbrook's wife and her relationship with the NBA star.
She was a college athlete
Nina, née Earl, was born on Jan. 16, 1989, and grew up in Southern California with three brothers.
She played basketball and ran track and field in high school, competing in the 4x400 relay and 400m. While she excelled in both sports, she chose to pursue basketball.
After graduating from Diamond Ranch High School, Nina received an athletic scholarship to play basketball for the University of California, Los Angeles. At UCLA, she was a forward for the women's basketball team and was described as "one of the fastest players on the team."
She met Russell at UCLA
Russell also attended UCLA and played on the men's basketball team, which is how he met his future wife. He played for the UCLA Bruins from 2006 to 2008 before being drafted to the NBA. In 2007, he and Nina started dating.
Nina described their courtship to Access Hollywood in 2020 as one filled with playful competition. "The beginning of our relationship was really fun," she said, adding that they would play basketball together frequently. She said she would often win before joking, "I had to stop playing him because he became a cheater."
She's a licensed marriage and family therapist
Nina graduated from UCLA with a bachelor's degree in psychology as well as a minor in English. She then went on to receive her master's degree in clinical psychology and is now a licensed marriage and family therapist.
During an interview with ESPN in 2013, Russell praised his then-girlfriend's studious nature, saying "she's a smart girl" before adding, "she knows what she wants to do in life, which is great."
She is an entrepreneur
In 2008, Russell started his professional basketball career, playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder. While there, Nina started a new career of her own, opening a small boutique called The Little Ark. Then, in 2020, she launched a line of children's clothing called Minibrook.
She is also the founder of Bene, a website that provides mental health workshops and self-care tips for women.
During an interview with Darling Magazine in 2020, Nina opened up about how her status as an NBA wife impacted her career, saying, "We lived in multiple states throughout the year and practicing as a therapist in a traditional sense became very difficult." She then went on to add, "I decided to shift gears and took that as an opportunity to explore other interests."
She and Russell had a star-studded wedding
Russell proposed to Nina in 2014 after six years of dating. The following year, the couple got married on Aug. 29, 2015. They said "I do" in an outdoor ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hotel in L.A. in front of plenty of famous friends.
Several other basketball stars showed up to the wedding, including Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Serge Ibaka and Dorell Wright. Plus, NBA player James Harden brought Khloé Kardashian to the event as his date.
At their reception, the couple had their first dance to Lauryn Hill and D'Angelo's song, "Nothing Even Matters." And later in the evening, Grammy-winner Miguel gave a surprise performance.
The next day, Nina shared a number of photos on Instagram to celebrate their nuptials.
She has three children with Russell
Russell and Nina welcomed their first child, son Noah, on May 16, 2017. 16 months after his birth, the couple announced that they were expecting again.
Nina praised her husband's parenting skills in their announcement on YouTube, saying "he's very hands-on." In response, Russell shared that "being a dad is more important to me than anything else," adding that he was excited to raise two more babies. The couple's twins, Skye and Jordan, were born in 2018.
In 2021, Nina revealed on Instagram that her second pregnancy was high-risk. "The reality is that my pregnancy with Skye and Jordyn was high risk and we did run into unforeseen complications during delivery, which was really scary," she wrote. "I feel so fortunate that we had the care that we had, but it pains me to know that a woman dies from pregnancy-related causes every 12 hours, and that 60% of those deaths are preventable."
She's a mental health advocate
Nina uses her high-profile status to bring awareness to various mental health and women's issues. She frequently advocates for women of color, especially.
"I think that Black women and women of color are some of the most undervalued groups of people in the U.S.," she told Popsugar in 2020. She went on to talk about her belief in taking care of yourself, saying, "There are so many different ways that we can maintain, and work on, and cultivate our mental well-being," before citing activities like exercising and journaling.
She and Russell run a charity together
In 2012, with the help of his wife, Russell started his nonprofit organization Why Not? Foundation, which is devoted to helping empower underprivileged kids and communities. After several schools switched to virtual learning in response to the pandemic in 2020, Nina and Russell worked to donate computers to students in need.
More recently in 2021, the pair opened the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy in Los Angeles. The NBA pro launched the school initiative with the help of the L.A. Promise Fund. In a statement to PEOPLE, Russell said that he wanted to help "inspire and empower these students," adding that he hoped to give them resources "to set them up for success beyond the classroom."
She is Russell's biggest supporter
Russell joined the Los Angeles Lakers in 2021, but during his first season with the team, the NBA star struggled to perform as expected and received criticism from fans as a result.
In March 2022, Nina spoke up about the death threats and harassment from fans she received due to her husband's performance. "When I'm being harassed on a daily basis over basketball games, and I'm having obscenity's [sic] and death wishes for me and my family sent my way because you're expressing your 'truth', it's hard for me to get on board with that," she tweeted.
Russell also told reporters at the time, "When it comes to basketball, I don't mind the criticism of missing and making shots. But the moment it becomes where my name is getting shamed, it becomes an issue."
After two seasons with the Lakers, Russell went to play for the Utah Jazz. In 2023, he joined the Los Angeles Clippers.
Nina told PEOPLE in June 2023 that she's learned to tune out the negativity from fans but the "biggest challenge" is shielding her kids from it.
"I'm not very affected by things that happen outside of my circle, but my kids are young, and they don't have that same experience," she said. "They shouldn't have to deal with [this issue]."
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