With the success of Black Ink Chicago on the WE channel, Lifetime has taken the plunge onto the Chicago scene following the real lives of five Chicago-area mothers. The network will premiered the new series Bringing Up Ballers this past Wednesday evening.
The docuseries features the world of five go-getter business women who manage to balance to the daily lives that revolve around their talented, athletically committed children. The hustle and bustle of middle school and high school basketball priorities keeps them all engaged and focused on the most important asset — their rising ball players.
Tiffany, runs a successful custom auto repair business. The mother of five devotes her time to her son Michael, 15, who aspires to make it to the NBA.
A former Ford model, Johanna’s 12-year-old son, Amari, is playing against older players and turning heads.
Heather and her ex-husband, former NBA player Aaron Williams, both spend time with their children, Danyelle, Camron and Aaron. Aaron Jr. plays on several basketball teams and is guided by his baller father.
Peytyn Willborn is probably one of the more recognizable among the women, carrying a strong personality and smart head for business. The ex-wife of comedian and national radio host George Willborn is the owner of Chicago’s only Black-owned Italian restaurant in Bronzeville. The couple’s son, George Willborn III, at 18, is talented, handsome and gearing up to graduate high school under the business savvy eye of Peytyn.
One of Peytyn’s best friends is Nikki, a dedicated baller mom as well as a real estate broker and creator of her own line of apparel — Baller Moms and Hooplyfe. Her son, Namari, 14, attends Morgan Park Academy as a freshman, playing varsity on the basketball team — destined to become one of the country’s leading high school players.
Excited for the premiere of the series, Peytyn says the highlights of the show are the moms. “All of the moms on there, we all know each other. We all support each other — I go to Nikki’s games, Nikki come to our games, I go to all the other moms’ games. We just support each other, we’re like a family.”
She believes the network was attracted to seeing the passion that they, as moms, have for supporting their athlete kids.
“They see the collaboration of this group of mothers. Some of us have been single, some us divorced like myself and married. You can stick together and raise your son, even if our sons are playing against each other — they see that we still love each other,” she said. adding the producers embraced this.
Nikki and Peytyn are both strong Black women who are outspoken and admit their presence at the games can raise some eyebrows among some of the other parents.
Nikki says, “They hate to see us coming into the gym. People like me and Peytyn are going to look a certain way. Peytyn is going to be strutting in her heels with a half-cut T-shirt. She got that big ole booty and me the same. I might not be as dressed up as Peytyn but I got my make-up on and I’m looking cute,” she said. “The average mom is not coming to the game and they don’t look like us. So, it’s ‘Who she thinks she is?’ That’s the first thing that comes to mind. Oh, people think, ‘I thought you were different.’ I tell them, ‘Girl, I’m from the low-end, I’m from 43rd and State.’ I don’t think like that — I’m not a suburban privilege-type of girl who thinks she’s better than others.”
A real estate broker for 12 years and married, Nikki is grateful for the support of her husband, whom she affectionately calls ‘Joe Jackson’ because of his disciplinary approach to training their son, Nimari. But she has clearly taken the reigns as “momma manager’”
“I’m managing his social media. I get him involved in fashion shows. I learned that this reality show is ‘acting’. Just like Rick Fox. I will decide who will be his agent and make all those decisions, and my husband is the trainer.”
Peyton shares the same approach to being there for her son, George, who is currently attending the University of San Antonio. Having styled hair for nearly 30 years for some of the top celebrities behind the scenes, she is now out front — an owner of a daycare center, restaurant and a trucking company.
The mother of two explains that although there are some “out-of-character” moments that add to the drama, she doesn’t regret the long-term commitment that it takes supporting a child in any sport or passion.
“If I did have a life, it was around his schedule. His life wasn’t around my schedule. I had to get up early in the morning and be committed for the long haul.”
In seeing Bringing Up Ballers on Lifetime, Nikki encourages other women in similar positions to learn from their triumphs and their challenges in this docuseries which airs every Wednesday at 9pm CT.
“One thing they’ll get from us is they’ll become inspired. Some moms think that they can’t get involved. You can still balance it all. You can balance your kids, all their engagements as well as being successful. It’s really about if you choose to do it.”