NBA Legend Jerry West Was Married Twice During His Long Public Life

Jerry West was an all-time great, and he had two marriages that each lasted over a decade.


Jun. 13 2024, Published 9:33 a.m. ET

Jerry West and his wife Karen at the 2019 NBA Awards.
Source: Getty Images

Few figures have made a greater impact on the NBA than Jerry West. After a legendary career as a player, Jerry worked for decades as an executive and was responsible for much of the success of the Lakers franchise for decades afterward.

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Given that enormous level of professional success, Jerry became so iconic that he is the silhouette inside of the NBA logo. Following the news of his death at the age of 86 on June 12, 2024, though, many wanted to learn more about Jerry's personal life, including who he was married to. Here's everything we know about Jerry West's wife.

Jerry West at the 2022 NBA All-Star Game.
Source: Getty Images
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Who was Jerry West's wife?

Jerry was married twice during his life. His first marriage was to Martha Kane, who he married in 1960 and divorced in 1976. In 1978, he married Karen Bua, and the two were together until his death.

Jerry and his family resided in California, where they had made their home for decades. Karen, who was 25 years younger than Jerry, was reportedly at her husband's side when he died.

Who are Jerry West's children?

Jerry had five children: three with Martha, and two with Karen. His children with Martha were David, Mark, and Michael, and his children with Karen were Ryan and Jonnie. Ryan and Jonnie both followed in their father's footsteps and while they couldn't play in the NBA, they became executives in the league. Jonnie is the director of basketball operations for the Golden State Warriors, and Ryan works as an executive with the Detroit Pistons.

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What was Jerry West's cause of death?

Jerry's death at the age of 86 likely wasn't a great surprise to those who knew him, his death was a great loss for the game of basketball. The Los Angeles Clippers were the first to announce Jerry's death. He had been a consultant for them in recent years, but they didn't provide any other details as to what the case might have been. Following the confirmation that Jerry had died, the NBA released a statement on the passing of one of its most influential figures.

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"Jerry West was a basketball genius and a defining figure in our league for more than 60 years," the statement read. "He distinguished himself not only as an NBA champion and an All-Star in all 14 of his playing seasons, but also as a consummate competitor who embraced the biggest moments. On behalf of the NBA, we send our deepest condolences to Jerry’s wife, Karen, his family and his many friends in the NBA community."

As an NBA executive, Jerry was responsible for creating the Showtime Lakers and then recruiting Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal to the Lakers. He also orchestrated the signing of Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors, which cemented their legacy as one of the great teams of the 21st century. As a player, he was the only man in history to win Finals MVP even though his team lost the championship.

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