Joel Berry might be one of the best college basketball players in the country, but he’s also a self-described family man and his life away from the game is just as important as anything he does on the court.
In fact, Berry is quick to point out his family’s support when asked about his success with UNC. And, now, as the Tar Heels star hopes to add another championship to his already-impressive college career, he knows his family will be watching every shot and cheering louder than just about anyone else. Here’s everything you need to know about the Berry family:
1. Berry’s Siblings Sported Matching, Removable Tattoos In the 2017 National Championship Game
The Berry family motto has always been very simple – believe. It’s something Joel Berry took to heart when he was growing up, a word that has defined his entire life, so much so that he even had it tattooed on his arm.
He explained the decision, telling NBC Sports in 2017:
It’s something that I want to be able to down and see, no matter what. Look, I’m not a big fan of tattoos. If I get a tattoo, I want it to mean something to me. This right here has got me throughout this whole season. To be here right now, it’s just all because of believing in myself and believing in my teammates, believing in what the coaches want us to do. That word. It just means so much.
Berry has always found something to believe in, every time he stepped on the court, and ahead of the 2017 National Championship game, his family did the same. His parents and siblings were, of course, in the stands when UNC captured its title – all of them sporting matching, removable tattoos that were identical to Berry’s.
The Tar Heels star said he spotted his family in the crowd just before tipoff – all of them flexing and pointing to their left bicep where the word was emblazoned. “It almost made me cry right then,” Berry said.
2. He Considers His Mother His Biggest Supporter
Berry’s family has been a pinnacle of support throughout his career, but he’s been quick to point out that his mother, Kathie, has always been just a bit more vocal. In fact, when Berry decided he wanted to focus on basketball in middle school, it was his mother who knew he’d end up in Carolina blue.
Mother knows best, right?
“You go through those reflections real fast,” Berry told The Undefeated in 2017. “That’s what brings tears to your eyes. I always talk to him about enjoying the journey and not rushing the journey. Good things will happen.”
Berry, a self-described “mama’s boy,” grew up watching sports with his mom and the two spent hours on the couch cheering for UNC. Their Tar Heel dream came true just after midnight on August 6, 2012. It was Roy Williams – he offered a scholarship. Berry’s mother cried. Berry cried.
And Berry was, officially, North Carolina-bound.
3. Berry’s Father Spoke About His Son’s Decision to Stay at UNC
Berry’s decision to stay at UNC – both in 2016 and 2017 – were major moments in the college-hoops world and while the Tar Heels star didn’t often go on record while the rumors were swirling, his father frequently spoke to the media.
In fact, in 2016, Berry Sr. told the Charlotte Observer there hadn’t been “any talks” about his son’s future plans, adding, “As a parent, we always want our kids to stay in school and get an education. And I believe in commitment, he’s committed to North Carolina.”
Berry looked to test the NBA waters in 2017, but withdrew his name from consideration in April. He released a statement on the UNC website, saying:
After speaking to my family I have decided to withdraw from the 2017 draft and will return to Carolina next season. I know I can continue to improve my game and be better prepared for the NBA after another year playing against the best college competition in the country. There’s no reason to rush leaving school. I love being a Tar Heel and love playing for Carolina and coach [Roy] Williams.
It was a decision that Berry, and his father, hope will pay off. An NBA scout told The Ringer in March 2018 that he expects Berry “to be a late second-rounder or undrafted free-agent pickup” this year.
4. Two Of His Sisters Played College Basketball
Basketball is part of the Berry family way of life.
Berry’s sisters, Kourtnie and Kasie, both played college basketball – at Rollins College and Brevard Community College respectively – and now Kourtnie has taken her talents to the sidelines.
Kourtnie, who played from 2008-12, is currently in her third season coaching at her alma mater and, of course, she’s got plenty of experience to draw from. The former shooting guard played on two Sunshine State Conference championship teams, competing in the NCAA Division II Tournament twice, including the first-ever Final Four berth in program history. She finished her career with 894 points and 113 assists, one of the program’s all-time 3-point shooters, still ranked first in attempts (496) and sixth in 3-pointers made (163).
Now, Kouortnie handles the day-to-day operations of the team and assists in player development.
5. Berry Proposed to Longtime Girlfriend Kelsey Porter in February 2018
She said yes!
Berry popped the question to his longtime girlfriend Kelsey Porter, a member of the UNC dance team, in February and, of course, he did it on the court. After all, Berry has always padded his stat sheet when he’s played at home. And no matter what happens in March, this might have been the highlight of Berry’s entire senior season.
Seriously, check out this cute:
The pair have been stars on each other’s respective Instagrams for years, but now everything is just a bit more official. After all, that’s a pretty sparkly ring.
Berry told the News Observer that he asked Porter to meet him at the Smith Center and pretended he had lost something when she got there. “Can you just tell what you’re looking for, so I can help you?” Porter asked Berry. She turned around to find him on one knee.
The couple plan to tie the knot next summer.