For brother and sister Amir and Nia Coffey, growing up playing basketball was a way of life. Instilled into the siblings at a very young age by their father, the love of the game pumps through their veins as if that were what kept their hearts beating.
“Basketball was something that was instilled in me and my sisters from a very young age,” Los Angeles Clippers guard Amir Coffey said. “Since I can remember whether it was working out or playing basketball, my dad was always taking us to the gym up until we went out to college.”
Now they both find themselves playing in Los Angeles on the same home court at Staples Center, being reunited in the same city for the first time since they both attended college. For the two siblings, their journeys leading to this moment have been filled with plenty of bumps and bruises along the way, something that Amir Coffey recognizes.
“I think through both our careers we’re going to go through tough patches and hard times,” Amir Coffey said. “But just sticking with that fight, continuing to get better and stay even keel through the highs and lows.”
For Amir, the road to the NBA has been a consistent grind as the guard has spent most of his time playing in the G League for the Clippers affiliate, the Agua Caliente Clippers out in Ontario. Coming out of the University of Minnesota, Amir is currently playing on a two-way contract that allows the pro team to shuttle him between the two teams whenever a roster spot is open.
Appearing in 28 of the team’s games so far this season, Amir has shown flashes of what he can provide to the big club, including recently where he went 4-4 from beyond the arc in a single quarter against the Miami Heat. He ended that game with a season-high in points and minutes, ending the night with 15 points in 32 minutes of play.
For Nia, her recent signing this offseason with the Los Angeles Sparks puts her on her fourth WNBA team in as many seasons. After being drafted in 2017 by the San Antonio Stars as the No. 5 selection overall out of Northwestern University, Nia has struggled to find her footing in the WNBA.
Even spending time playing overseas in four different countries, Nia has proven that her motivation and drive to succeed at the professional level will not falter. As she continues to find her bearings at the professional level, the chance to reconnect and compete with her brother again is one she will cherish.
‘I’m just looking forward to it, and just being in the same city,” Nia Coffey said. “We haven’t been together since college so looking forward to just being able to reconnect.”
Reflecting on their time growing up as kids, Nia is proud of the way she and Amir have evolved their games as they both reached the pinnacle in making it as professional players.
“He started super young, I want to say second grade and I started in fourth grade,” Nia Coffey added. “Never did I think that we would have the opportunity to play in the same city. But just growing up and seeing how he has evolved as a player and then same with myself and just seeing how our journeys have been different but we kind of landed in the same city it’s just amazing to see.”
Knowing the journey that his sister has been on throughout her career, Amir is thrilled at having a front-row seat in watching his sibling’s game progress.
“It’s a blessing for real, it’s a blessing. My sister has been back and forth from the WNBA to overseas,” said Amir Coffey. “So just seeing her continue her journey it’s pretty cool that now we’re in the same market, same city. So I’m happy for her, proud of her and we just go forward from here.”
Now as the siblings continue their grind at the highest level possible, the opportunity to prove their talent and skills within the same city will continue a long-standing competition within the family. While both will admit that they are a better basketball player than the other, the sibling’s oldest sister, Sydney, may quite possibly be the best shooter in the family. But if it were up to Nia, she feels her game has caught up with both her siblings.
“My sister definitely thinks she’s the best shooter, but I think I have improved a lot and could kind of take her,” Nia Coffey said. “But Amir thinks, you know, since he’s a 6’8 combo guard that he’s just better than all of us, so I just have to prove him wrong that’s it.”
As Amir continues his role off the bench for the playoff-bound Clippers, the opportunity to earn more minutes remains in his reach as the team has struggled with various injuries throughout the season allowing him to remain with the team for the stretch run. For Nia, her season with the Sparks will not start for another few months as she continues to play overseas before making her way back to the United States.