Actor Nia Long said she "will continue to focus on my children" amid rumors of her fiancé's infidelity. (Photo: Frazer Harrison via Getty Images)
It’s been a difficult 24 hours for Nia Long. After the actor learned her fiancé, Ime Udoka, was being suspended as head coach of the Boston Celtics for the 2022-2023 season, she also learned why: Udoka reportedly carried on an affair with a staffer. On Friday, Long was ready to speak out.
“The outpouring of love and support from my family, friends and the community during this difficult time means so much to me,” Long told E! News in a statement. “I ask that my privacy be respected as I process the recent events. Above all, I am a mother and will continue to focus on my children.”
When ESPN reported Wednesday that Udoka was likely getting suspended, no one initially knew why. However, two people with knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press he had been having an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer.
“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down,” Udoka told ESPN reporter Malika Andrews in a statement. “I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult position, and I accept the team’s decision.”
Udoka, who led the Celtics to the NBA Finals during his first season as head coach, certainly has his supporters. But Long has amassed a legion of loyal fans for generations. From classic comedies like “Friday” to admirable charity work, she’s widely beloved — including on Twitter.
Sending nothing but love to Nia Long.
We’re not letting a man, who didn’t recognize the luxury her presence was, dim all her beauty and glory.
Matter of fact, we need a Nia Long national holiday! pic.twitter.com/YpJMRSE4zQ
— Jamaal Bowman Ed.D (@JamaalBowmanNY) September 23, 2022
“Sending nothing but love to Nia Long,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) tweeted Friday. “We’re not letting a man, who didn’t recognize the luxury her presence was, dim all her beauty and glory. Matter of fact, we need a Nia Long national holiday!”
The effusiveness of Bowman’s tweet drew some mockery, but the lawmaker wasn’t alone in expressing support for the cherished actor:
Sad part is Nia Long don’t even be in no mess and now this man got her name everywhere while she just trying to film the last Best Man in peace.
— Yall Sound Crazy (@queenveej) September 22, 2022
Ime Udoka fumbled Nia Long and the NBA Finals.
I’ve never seen an L worse than this one.
— Austin Konenski (@Austin_Kone05) September 22, 2022
Nia Long has had such a beautiful career journey. The business she’s chosen to share with the public has always been positive. And then here comes a man….yall irk
— Tylynn Burns (@cryylynn) September 22, 2022
Cheating on Nia Long? End of days has to be upon us. Because ain’t NO WAY.
— Nina Parker (@theninaparker) September 22, 2022
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.