Nia Long is getting candid about her painful, public split from her former fiancé, Ime Udoka.
Long recently sat joined Jeezy for a raw and emotional conversation, which was released on Tuesday in promotion of his new album, I Might Forgive… But I Don’t Forget.
While Jeezy opened up about his own split from Jeannie Mai, Long also reflected on her split from the basketball coach in September 2022, after news of an alleged affair with a female co-worker within the Boston Celtics organization surfaced.
According to Long, the split was “a wakeup call” for her — especially in regards to parenting her and Udoka’s 11-year-old son, Kez. Long said she suddenly realized “‘You’re gonna do this on your own and you’re gonna be fine!’”
Long explained that she spent a long time trying to keep the family together, but eventually, “I had to come to a place where loving myself was bigger and more important than saving anybody.”
Udoka was the Celtics’ head coach at the time of the scandal, and had led the Celtics to the NBA Finals during the 2021-22 season, his first season with the team. The scandal, however, rocked the organization before the team ever kicked off the 2022-23 season, ultimately leading to Udoka’s suspension for the entire season.
Udoka, who was eventually fired by the Celtics, apologized in a statement shared with ESPN’s Malika Andrews.
“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down,” he said. “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.”
The actress began dating Udoka in 2009 and the couple got engaged in 2015. They welcomed Kez on Nov. 7, 2011. Long also has a 22-year-old son, Massai, from a previous relationship.
A year after their split — and amid a legal battle over custody of their young son — Long told Jeezy that she’s still got her share of rough days and challenges.
“Somedays I’m, like, totally good, and then other days I’m like, ‘Ugh, God, this feels like so much work!” Long said, as she began to tear up. “Then other days it feels like women shouldn’t have to be this strong. I don’t want to be this strong sometimes.”
Looking back at how her split played out in the headlines and the public eye, Long said she “was not embarrassed” but was surprised at the wave of support she felt in the wake of the news.
“The way that Black people stood up for me, and the way that Black women were like ‘Oh no, you don’t do that to her.” I was shocked,” Long said. “Because I didn’t realize that what I had done in my career has so much impact.”
For more on Long’s post-split life, check out the video below.