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Meet the Wives and Girlfriends Baby Mamas of the Utah Jazz…

October 26, 2011
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…from the 1996-1997 season.

(Can’t cite the source because I don’t know where this came from. Found the following on my computer in a Word document created on June 13, 1999. The file name was exceedingly informative: “JAZZ.doc.” If anyone remembers where this was originally published, let me know.)

Kay Malone (Karl Malone)
The story of how Kay Kinsey met the Most Valuable Player in her life is, by now, the stuff of lore. The 1988 Miss Idaho was walking through a Salt Lake shopping mall when her brother-in-law pointed out Jazz forward Karl Malone — “The Mailman” — signing autographs.

She gawked at the man she figured must be the state’s first black letter carrier.

Even seven years after marriage to Karl Malone, Kay Malone is notoriously ignorant about basketball. After the Jazz lost 104-84 to the Lakers this month, Karl Malone recounted how he had told his wife he shot 2 for 20. She responded, “What does that mean?”

The Mailman has told reporters he found Kay Malone’s disinterest in the game attractive from the start. The couple’s meeting in the mall led to a call, then a date. They married on Christmas Eve 1990. Now the Malone family numbers five, with daughters Kadee and Kylee and son Karl Jr.

Malone spent her childhood in Texas, daughter of a military man and a clothing designer. She attended a junior college in east Texas on a dance scholarship.

Texas is beauty-pageant country, but it was not until Malone transferred to Boise State that she took her first stroll down the runway. For kicks, she joined some friends vying for the Miss Idaho USA crown and was selected second runner-up and Miss Congeniality. The next year she was Miss Idaho.

She maintains an interest in pageantry, advising women across the country on how to become top contestants. That role is voluntary. Along with her husband, she also works on a number of other charitable causes.

Nada Stockton (John Stockton)
Jazz guard John Stockton may be the NBA’s all-time assist leader, but the real basketball fanatic in the Stockton home is Nada.

“I love to watch basketball,” she says. “There are lots of times that John says, ‘Do we have to watch another basketball game?'”

Her knowledge of the game has amazed many a fan sitting nearby at the Delta Center. But her love of basketball (and soccer and baseball) was developing long before she met her future husband at Spokane’s Gonzaga University in the early 1980s.

Nada Stepovich and her twin sister grew up with seven older brothers in Fairbanks, Alaska. A tomboy, she spent many hours rebounding free-throw shots for her siblings, and they rebounded a few for her, as well.

“We played everything the boys did,” she says. And when she wasn’t participating in sports herself, she was watching: “I grew up going to all my brother’s basketball games.”

Nada Stockton, 35, is still watching youngsters play sports. But now they are her own. She spends her days shuttling the oldest of the Stocktons’ five children (ages 6 months to 9 years) to baseball practices and soccer games.

A five-child household, she says, “keeps us hopping.”

The children also get to watch their father play to the screaming cheers of fans at the Delta Center. They are identifiable by their matching outfits and by their miniskirt-clad mother making erudite basketball observations.

Stacy Hornacek (Jeff Hornacek)
During halftime at a Jazz game, Stacy Nelson Hornacek is easy to find among the 20,000 people in the Delta Center. She’s the one with her nose in a book.

“I never read when the game is going on, but I read at halftime,” she says. “Sometimes I irritate the fans around me.”

From the days when she met Jazz guard Jeff Hornacek, Stacy Hornacek has been a bookworm. When she wasn’t reading, she was writing, free-lancing articles and producing columns for the Arizona newspaper New Times.

But she has put her writing career on hold to rear the three Hornacek children, Ryan, Tyler and Abigale. Her decision to “retire” was easy. With their father in a job that keeps him on the road much of the year, the children need stability.

“We’ve been traded a few times and they need someone there who’s always going to be a constant,” she says.

Hornacek developed her strong sense of family growing up surrounded by relatives in the Iowa farming town of Manning. Its population of 1,500 just happens to be the size of Jeff Hornacek’s graduating class at a Chicago high school.

The two met at Iowa State University, where they dated for three months before Jeff Hornacek mentioned that he was a basketball player. They dated two years before getting engaged.

An NBA career has kept the family on the move, spending six seasons with the Phoenix Suns before heading to Philadelphia in 1992. Two years later, Jeff Hornacek was traded to Utah, where the family plans to stay after he retires.

“Salt Lake — and I mean this as the greatest compliment — is so much like the Midwest, except it has a lot more things to do,” Stacy Hornacek says.

“People are so much like the people in the Midwest: They have a good work ethic, and they’re kind and considerate of others.”

Kristin Keefe (Adam Keefe)
Professional sports were part of Kristin Keefe’s life long before she met Jazz forward Adam Keefe. In fact, pro sports have been part of her life for as long as she can remember.

She was raised in California, where her father played for the Los Angeles Rams from 1970 to 1977. Bob Klein also played for the San Diego Chargers.

But Kristin Keefe’s sports involvement has hardly been on the sidelines. In junior high school, she played basketball, softball, tennis and volleyball. By the time she was in high school, she was a stellar volleyball player — good enough to garner a scholarship to Stanford University.

That’s where she met Adam Keefe.

The volleyball and freshman basketball teams used to practice in the same gym, and many players became friends. Seven months after meeting, Adam Keefe and Kristin Klein began dating.

But the sports careers that brought them together would separate them. For four years, they lived in different parts of the country. Keefe first played for Atlanta, while Klein competed with the USA National Team. She was a member of the U.S. Olympic team, competing in Atlanta in 1996. She has also played with Utah’s professional team The Predators.

It has been a year since she and Keefe gave up on a sometimes long-distance relationship and got married. Now, she is slowing down the pace a little, making plans for a career and eventually children.

Heidi Ostertag (Greg Ostertag)
Heidi Ostertag was a student when she met her future husband, Greg. They were attending Kansas University, where he played on the basketball team, and she worked for the athletic department as a “class checker.”

In that capacity, she would look in on classes and make sure scholarship athletes like Ostertag were in attendance.

She put her own class attendance on hold after marriage to Ostertag and the birth of their son, Cody. Cody now has a 3-month-old sister, Bailey.

Heidi Ostertag has always planned to have a career, but her priorities shifted after she became wife and mother while Greg Ostertag was playing college sports.

“I put off school for Cody,” she says. “I was always really into the idea of having a career. Then when I got married, and especially when I had a baby, my life totally changed. Now it’s not as much about me as it is about them.”

She anticipates a time when she can pursue that career. Greg Ostertag is two years into his NBA career, and Heidi Ostertag can afford to go back to school part time. She is preparing for the days when the children are in school and her husband has retired — and she can get moving on a career.

And though a native of Arizona, Ostertag says she would like to pursue that career in Utah. She would like to work promoting sports events, a job that would combine her love of the outdoors and athletics with the communications degree she is seeking.

Kimberli Russell (Bryon Russell)
Kimberli Russell was frightened at the prospect of moving to Salt Lake City after her husband was picked by the Jazz in 1993. It was not the cold winters she found fearsome, or the lack of nightlife. Or the lack of diversity.

It was the NBA wives.

As Kay Malone put it, “NBA wives have a reputation for being total witches.”

Malone took Russell under her wing. She showed her how the Jazz wives are supportive of one another and more family-oriented than those in other franchises. And that is fortunate, considering Jazz forward Bryon Russell wants to have five children.

For now, he and Kimberli have one.

When Bryon Russell met Kimberli Peterson at Long Beach State, she was studying to become a child psychologist. But for now, she has a practice of one: her daughter, Kajun. After her practicum is completed, Kimberli Russell plans to return to school for her master’s degree.

“For right now, my life mostly revolves around Bryon,” she says. “I’m lucky that I like basketball a lot. Some of the wives don’t. I feel like I’m in uniform with him every game. I’ve been with him every game. The good nights. The bad nights. When he’s down, I’m right there.”

Despite the ups and downs of professional sports, home life for the Russells is surprisingly level. The couple will discuss a difficult game on the drive home, “but by the time we get there, that’s it. Bryon keeps a smile on his face all the time.”

When her husband is on the road with the team, Kimberli Russell is not worried about him.

People often ask her how she feels about the many nights he is on the road. She knows “trust is the key. … I trust him 100 percent. We talk. I ask Bryon if he’s happy. He asks me if I’m happy.”

Yvonne Hinojosa (Antoine Carr)
As a personal trainer working with the Jazz, Yvonne Hinojosa has always had a big thing in common with forward Antoine Carr: Antoine Carr.

Now she has a little thing in common with him: Antoine Carr Jr. Hinojosa is spending her third playoff with the Big Dawg, but it is her first with Antoine Jr., born just eight weeks ago.

The baby seemed to know this is an important time for his father. He arrived a little early, before the playoffs — and the big-game stress — began.

Although she has been through the playoffs frenzy before, Hinojosa says the stakes are a little higher this year as the players get older and near retirement.

“He deserves it,” she says of playoff success. “It means so much more to all of them as they get to the end of their career. That’s something we all have in common.”

The players are not the only ones who know playoffs stress.

“I am sick, I get so nervous,” says Hinojosa, who by now knows the game so well she could be a Jazz analyst. Part of her distress stems from her awareness of how Carr is feeling.

“Nobody can be harder on him than he is,” she says. “If I didn’t know so much about it, I wouldn’t get so nervous.”

Despite Carr’s intensity, Hinojosa says he can move on after a hard game. He simply sits down to play a video game, kills a few bad guys on the screen, and “he’ll get over it.”

Hinojosa says Carr “is not a normal person.” But she means that in a nice way — “He’s the most athletic person I have ever trained. … He is so determined.”

Hinojosa says she understands Carr’s competitiveness. She is the same way. Even when they go fishing, they keep score.

Victoria Foster (Greg Foster)
With five brothers and two sisters, Victoria Fragoso grew up competing. She had to vie for time in the bathroom, for fresh-baked cookies out of the oven, for the ball during family football games.

She competed in high school, playing impressively on the volleyball team and running track. She was still at it in college, where she had a volleyball scholarship.

It was at the University of Texas in her home town of El Paso that she met Jazz center Greg Foster. And her competitive ambitions began to subtly change.

Victoria Foster stayed in school to fulfill her scholarship obligation after Greg graduated and went on to play for the Washington Bullets. He then played for the NBA in Atlanta, Milwaukee, Minnesota and Chicago, and on an international team in Greece.

It was there that Greg and Victoria decided to marry. She put her career ambitions on hold and became a proud “homebody,” devoting attention to daughters Victoria, 4, and Collette, 2.

She considers Utah an ideal place for a committed homebody.

“This fits exactly where we are in our lives because Utah is very family-oriented,” she says. “Just look around: There are lots of child-care centers and McDonald’s. Everything here has to do with kids.”

Victoria Foster has put professional plans on hold but anticipates the time when her husband has retired from the NBA and their children are grown. Then she will use her bachelor’s degree in education.

She hopes to teach algebra, perhaps become a high-school principal. Because she will always have a competitive spirit, she may coach some volleyball teams as well.

Michelle Morris (Chris Morris)
Michelle Hammonds Morris and Chris Morris are business partners.

They are part owners of Child Support Recovery, a business in Houston that goes after deadbeat parents. They are also partners in the home, where motherhood is the first order of business for Michelle Morris.

The Morrises have three boys, Michael, 12, Sean, 11, and William, 6, who goes by Mo.

“I consider myself a full partner,” Michelle Morris says. “There are so many things that would get left undone without me.” She is grateful that her husband’s career as forward with the Utah Jazz allows her to devote full time to their children — “It’s important for me to know that at their young ages I am here when my children need me. … I promised myself if I were ever in the position to be home with my children, that is exactly where I would be.”

Because she knows the value of the role she plays, Michelle Morris bristles at any suggestion that she is “just” a wife.

“NBA wives are not just hangers-on. Everything that is brought into this house is brought in because of Chris, but I take care of it all. When he leaves home, he doesn’t have to worry about a thing.”

The Morris partnership is long-lived. They were childhood friends and then sweethearts at an Atlanta high school, where he was a basketball star and she was head cheerleader. She cut short her college education to marry Morris in Alabama, where he was playing for Auburn University.

Like others in professional sports, the Morrises led an itinerant life, first in the Houston area, which they continue to call home, then New Jersey, where Chris Morris played for the Nets. He signed with the Jazz as a free agent in October 1995.

Although it’s not “home,” Utah suits Michelle Morris just fine.

“I like the peaceful feeling. Everything slows down. I feel like we all have time to mellow out and just enjoy each other.”

Candice Coleman (Shandon Anderson)
When it comes to child care for 10-month-old Kori Anderson, Candice Coleman says, “Sometimes I have to put my foot down.”

It seems the child’s father, Jazz forward Shandon Anderson, wants to spend too much time with her, tries to do too much for her.

“There is no way he can do everything,” she says of the 24-year-old father of her daughter. That is especially true during the playoffs for this rookie from the University of Georgia.

A native of St. Louis, Coleman met Anderson in Atlanta, where she stayed to finish college after Anderson joined the Jazz as a second-round draft pick.

Soon after Anderson began his career in the pros, he also began his career as a father.

Now all three are experiencing their first playoffs.

Coleman recently graduated with a degree in broadcast communication and expects the three of them can spend more time together now. And she expects competition to intensify for snuggle time with Kori.

Javin Howard (Stephen Howard)
The journey from Clearfield High School to the “wives room” of the Delta Center might seem a short one. But not the way Javin Howard took it.

She was studying physical therapy at Long Beach State, and also doing some modeling work, when she came home to work an internship. Her brother introduced her to Jazz forward Stephen Howard.

“It was love at first sight,” she says. “I just had the feeling that first night I met him that he was the man I was going to marry.”

She went back to California to finish school and Stephen Howard went to Italy to play basketball. But she eventually traveled to Italy to join him, and there he proposed.

“It was in Florence on New Year’s Eve and fireworks were going off. It was very romantic.”

They were married in June 1995. From Italy, they proceeded to France, where Stephen played basketball and Javin studied the language and cooking.

His basketball career soon brought them full circle. In January, he was asked to return to Salt Lake City to play again for the Jazz, the team with which he had spent his rookie season in 1992.

The couple love Utah, but it is not entirely home. During the off-season, they live in Stephen Howard’s home town of Dallas. She takes time off her modeling career in the summer to give him her undivided attention.

“We ride bikes together; I’ll rollerblade while he runs. I even rebound for him.”

Their priority now is a guaranteed NBA contract. Children will come later.

“People ask me if it’s hard to pick up and move so much, and I always say no. I just have to make myself comfortable wherever we are.”

(The only Jazzman that didn’t score a blurb in this was Howard Eisley.)

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