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Jerry Buss’ Wife: An Insight into The Love Life Of The Lakers Legend

Delving into the Personal and Professional Lives of Jerry Buss and Wife JoAnn Mueller: Their Family, His Impact on the Lakers, and the Lessons They Left Behind.
by Rob Gillham | Jan 8 2024
Credits: Statesboro Herald

Jerry Buss was one of the most fascinating figures in the sports business industry of the late 20th century. Buss was an entrepreneur, real estate investor, and the long-time owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, but he wasn’t just an owner, he became a Lakers legend.

During his 33-year tenure, the Lakers reached the NBA Finals 16 times and won 10 championships. His leadership stamped his legacy as one of the all-time greats in professional sports.

This article will delve into the personal life of Jerry Buss, his relationship with his wife JoAnn Mueller, their family, and his legacy in the world of sports.

Jerry Buss’ Marriage To JoAnn Mueller

Born in Boise, Idaho, in 1933, JoAnn Mueller crossed paths with Jerry Buss while both studying at the University of Wyoming. In 1952, they got married and soon moved to Los Angeles. 

Throughout their marriage, Jerry and JoAnn had five children – Lee (1953), Johnny (1956), Jim (1959), Jeanie (1961), and Janie (1963). However, their first daughter, Lee, was given up for adoption shortly after his birth. 

However, after 20 years together, the bond between Jerry and JoAnn ended in their divorce in 1972. 

Sadly, in 2019, JoAnn Mueller passed at 86.

Life of A Playboy

Jerry Buss was married twice. After separating from JoAnn, Buss allegedly married his second wife, Veronica Hoff, in the same year while still married to his first wife, JoAnn.

Known for his playboy persona during his tenure as the Lakers’ owner, Buss had a reputation for dating younger women. One of his notable relationships was with Debbie Zafrani, a Playboy bunny, a relationship Buss pursued while still married. 

Another significant person in Jerry Buss’ life was Karen Demel. While the details of how the couple met are a mystery, they reportedly started dating each other in the early 1980s and had two children together, Joey (born 1985) and Jesse (born 1988). 

In 1990, Jerry Buss faced a palimony lawsuit from Puppi Buss (whose real name is Marsha Lee Osborne). Puppi asserted they had an on-and-off relationship for more than 15 years, and she claimed Jerry was the father of her son.

They later settled the case out of court, but the agreement’s specifics were never disclosed publicly. When he died, Buss was dating veterinarian student Delia Cortez, who he wrote into his will.

In her late twenties, Cortez inherited a $5.5 million condo in Hawaii and his 2009 Bently, estimated to be worth about $200,000. Also, Buss has been romantically linked to model Jill St.Marks.

The Buss Family in charge of the Lakers

Jerry Buss’ four children. – Johnny, Jim, Jeanie, and Janie have all played significant roles in the Los Angeles Lakers organization to various extents, particularly Jim and Jeanie. 

Jim was the Lakers’ executive vice president of basketball operations until 2017, Jeanie Buss is the controlling owner and president, diligently carrying out their father’s legacy. 

Jerry Buss: The Lakers Legend

Jerry Buss bought the Los Angeles Lakers franchise in 1979 and was instrumental in leading it to an era of unprecedented success. Under his helm, the Lakers won 10 NBA championships.

Buss’ incorporation of theatrical elements into the sporting experience, popularly considered the “Showtime” era of the Lakers, transformed it into a basketball powerhouse and an entertainment spectacle. His unique vision, business acumen, and charismatic leadership made him one of the most revered figures in the NBA.

Jerry Buss sadly passed away due to kidney failure on February 18, 2013, at the age of 80. 

Whether you are a basketball fan, interested in smart business moves, or intrigued by iconic personal stories, Jerry Buss’s life story won’t disappoint.

While this article offers a snapshot, for a more in-depth read, delve into the stories of other sporting legends in Blinkist’s book collection, Lessons From Sports. So why wait? Dive into the riveting world of Blinkist today.

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