'Blindsided' Nia Long breaks silence on Celtics head coach fiancé's AFFAIR with a female team staffer - vows to 'focus on my children at this difficult time': Club suspends him for a year
Fresh Prince of Bel Air actress Nia Long has broken her silence today after learning that her Boston Celtics fiancé, Ime Udoka, cheated on her with one of his staffers.
The starlet told TMZ in a statement that she was left 'blindsided' by the affair, that comes as she relocates to Boston to be with her longtime beau.
Long, 51, and Udoka, a former player turned coach who previously played for the San Antonio Spurs, have been together for more than a decade.
They became engaged in 2015 but have never married, though they share a ten-year-old son. She also has another son from a previous relationship.
This week, their family bliss was destroyed when the Boston Celtics suspended Udoka for violating ethics rules by having a consensual affair with the unnamed staffer.
It's believed that is how Long discovered the infidelity.
'The outpouring of love and support from family, friends and the community during this difficult time means so much to me,' Long said through her spokeswoman.
'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,' she said.
Udoka, the Celtics' second-year head coach with a once-sterling reputation, was suspended for all of the upcoming season on Thursday over 'multiple' unspecified violations of team rules.
In a statement on Thursday night, he said: 'I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down.
'I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team's decision.
'Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.'
Udoka is said to have suffered a 'significant financial penalty', though the amount has not been disclosed.
The 45-year-old is said to have had an improper relationship with a female member of staff.
That woman has not been named.
In the team statement naming assistant Joe Mazzulla as interim coach, Boston said Udoka's future would be determined 'at a later date.'
Long became a household name with her role in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air as Lisa Wilkes, Will Smith's girlfriend.
She also starred in Boyz In The Hood, Soul Food and Big Momma's House.
The beloved actress is also the recipient of three NAACP Image Awards and a Black Reel Award.
As news of the affair spread across social media this week, Long's fans and famous friends leaped to her defense.
Many chastised Udoka for his indiscretion, asking how he could have betrayed the actress - a universally popular star and one of the most beautiful actresses of her generation.
'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!' tweeted New York Congressman Jamaal Bowmann.
'Nia Long has an 100% approval rating with Black America and Ime Udoka is about to understand that,' added film producer Van Lathan.
'Cheating on Nia Long? End of days has to be upon us because ain't NO WAY,' added producer Nina Parker.
Udoka joined the Celtics as head coach in the 2021-2022 season.
While he was settling in, Nia and their ten-year-old son remained in New York City, where they live in Brooklyn.
Sources however say she was planning to relocate to Chicago to support her fiancé, and had been house hunting this week.
She became a national treasure in the 1990s with her roles in films and TV shows that celebrated black culture and featured predominantly black casts.
Long is also well-known for keeping herself clean of scandal - fans on Friday noted how she only ever appeared in the press for her acting roles or activist causes.