Things To Know About Monique James, Gary Payton’s Ex-Wife – From Flight Attendant to Fluid Painter

Monique Payton (née James) raised three children single handedly when her husband Gary Payton was busy with his NBA career.

By AtticusPublished on: May 1, 2024 Updated on: May 9, 2024
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Monique James’ life story offers more than just a glimpse into the world of an NBA star’s partner. She first met her ex-husband Gary Payton in high school and began dating soon. Their early romance eventually grew into a deep, complex relationship. As Payton’s basketball career soared, Monique skillfully managed the needs of their three children mostly on her own due to Payton’s demanding travel schedule.

Their relationship faced significant challenges, notably when Monique discovered that Payton had fathered another son just months before their second child was born. Yet, she chose to stay by his side.

Years later, they ended their marriage in 2012; however, they continue to share a bond of friendship. This enduring respect was highlighted when Payton invited Monique to his Hall of Fame induction where he acknowledged her vital role throughout his career.

Today, reflecting on her journey, Monique emerges not just as GP’s ex-wife, but as a figure of inspiration. Her story resonates with those who appreciate the unsung heroes behind public figures.

Monique and Gary Payton’s Wedding Had Around 500 Guests

Gary and Monique James tied the knot in a grand wedding ceremony on July 26, 1997. The event took place at the Sheraton Palace’s grand ballroom, a venue transformed into a vision of romance with flowers, pink rose light projections and a canopied altar. The former NBA star was 29 years old while Monique was 31 (born 28th February 1966).

The duo’s big day was attended by an impressive 400 to 500 guests that included notable figures from the NBA and beyond, like Sonics co-captain Nate McMillan, and players like Jason Kidd and Mitch Richmond. Celebrities such as television star Mark Curry and rapper Hammer also joined the festivities, which were reported to have an extravagant budget estimated at $200,000.

Their two children Raquel, born November 15, 1988, and Gary Payton II, born on December 1, 1992, were also part of the family’s joyous occasion. The duo welcomed their third child, their second son Julian, on April 16, 1998.

Monique and Gary Payton got married in 1997 and got divorced after 15 years
Monique Payton (née James) and Gary Payton got married in 1997 and got divorced after 15 years

Monique graced the aisle in a stunningly simple yet elegant gown, featuring delicate chiffon and a lace-trimmed bustier by New York designer Vera Wang. Her bridesmaids wore minimalist white Wang dresses. Meanwhile, Gary and his 13 groomsmen opted for classic black tuxedos paired with unique black suede shoes embossed with a basketball and hoop motif.

Payton playfully shrugged during the exchange of vows—particularly at the “for richer or poorer” part, an amusing nod to the $87.5 million contract he had signed the previous summer. Following the ceremony, the newlyweds planned an extensive “double-hit” honeymoon, starting in the Virgin Islands and then continuing in Paris the following month.

Monique and Gary got divorced after 15 years of marriage. Her then-husband Gary’s infidelities might be the reason for their split; however, they haven’t disclosed it yet.

Gary Had a Son With His Mistress Before His Son Payton II Was Born

When Gary and Monique welcomed their second child, Gary II, Gary Sr. had already become a father to another son, Gary Payton Jr., born around four months earlier that year to Kimberly Sparks of Chicago. This period marked a complex chapter in Payton’s personal life, managing relationships and responsibilities across two households.

Although his extra-marital relationship brought turbulence to his married life, the situation around child support for Gary Jr. became particularly notable. Kimberly Sparks initially sought 20% of Payton’s NBA income for child support. This demand would have amounted to an extraordinary $35,000 per month, escalating to $208,333 monthly by 1996, following Payton’s signing of a seven-year, $87.5 million contract.

However, understanding the unlikelihood of such demands being met in court, Sparks moderated her request. Ultimately, Payton agreed to a child support arrangement of $5,550 per month. Additionally, he set up a $175,000 college trust fund for Gary Jr. and purchased a $1 million life insurance policy with the child named as the beneficiary, ensuring financial support and future security for their son.

Is the Mother of NBA Champion Gary Payton II

Monique has seen each of her children take distinct paths in life. Her eldest, Raquel Payton-Childs, has chosen a more private life compared to her public figure parents. Raquel is married to Jesse Childs, a basketball coach, and together they are raising a son and a daughter.

Her second child, Payton II, known as GP2, has followed in his father’s athletic footsteps. He primarily plays as a shooting guard/small forward for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA. Payton II won his first NBA championship with the Warriors during the 2022 season, continuing the family’s legacy in professional basketball.

Payton II struggled with reading and understanding in school, unlike his siblings who enjoyed their nightly reading routine. Gary often mumbled to himself and found it hard to keep up with his classmates. Concerned, his fourth-grade teacher suggested to his mother that Gary might have dyslexia and recommended testing for this learning disability.

Initially, Gary’s mother was defensive and hesitant about the idea, but she eventually agreed to the testing. The results confirmed that Gary did have dyslexia. With this diagnosis, he received the necessary support, including tutoring, which helped him understand how to learn in a way that suited him.

Monique James and her three children; Raquel, Gary Payton II, and Julian
James and her three children; Raquel, Gary Payton II, and Julian

The youngest, Julian, has mostly stayed out of the public eye as well. Having said that, in 2019, he was involved in a serious car accident. Monique shared her relief and gratitude on social media, noting the third anniversary of the accident in 2022 with a heartfelt message. “3 years ago today I received the scariest call in my life! It was by the grace of God that my baby survived,” read her caption.

She Was an Athlete in High School and College

Monique, later known as Monique Payton, displayed exceptional athletic prowess long before she became known as the wife of Gary Payton. During her high school years at Skyline High School in Oakland, California, Monique was a standout athlete, excelling in basketball and track and field. She competed in a range of events including the 100 meters, 200 meters, hurdles, long jump, and high jump.

Monique recalled her high school sports achievements with a hint of pride. “I always started on the basketball team. Never came off the bench. Just letting you know. I had the highest vertical leap amongst the girls in high school,” she said. “And I was the fastest. So when we did up and back [running exercises], I was the fastest. Always first. So my coach was like, ‘You’re running track.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ It was my senior year. I was like, ‘OK.’

Her dedication to sports continued into her college years. Monique took her athletic skills to Merritt College, a junior college in OaklandRegarded as one of the greatest guards in the history of Merritt College, Monique’s promising sports career took a backseat as she chose to focus on her family, starting a life with Payton Sr.

Meanwhile, Monique’s oldest son, Payton II thinks he got his athletic genes from his mother. The young basketball star shared a surprising perspective that counters common assumptions. “It’s got to be Monique. So if it’s not Monique, I’d be surprised if it’s Gary. I doubt it, though. In Monique’s background, she was running track, doing high jump, long jump, it just makes sense. And she used to always tell me she was the most athletic in her class. So I’m going to take her word for it. It’s truly Monique.

Is a Full-Time Flight Attendant

Monique is a flight attendant based in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to her LinkedIn page, she is associated with Spirit Airlines as a full-time flight attendant. Moreover, she has also been an executive director at GP2 Foundation which she founded in January 2021.

Besides, Monique has been deeply involved in charitable work, motivated by the loss of her cousin, Shawn Guidry, to HIV/AIDS. Alongside her friend Virginia Patu-Bathea, she co-founded the nonprofit “Woman Standing Tall,” which supports women overcoming adversities, including those affected by HIV/AIDS.

They produced a 12-month calendar highlighting these women’s stories. Additionally, Monique and Virginia created a cookbook titled “Food For The Soul,” featuring recipes from NBA mothers and their sons’ favorite dishes, with all proceeds going to charity. Through these efforts, Monique raised over $70,000 for the Life-Long Aids Alliance in Seattle.

Loves Fluid Painting

After her children had grown and left home, Monique discovered a new dimension of herself that she had not previously explored. It was during a particularly emotional day that she expressed to a colleague, almost spontaneously, “I’m going to paint.” This marked the beginning of her journey into fluid art, a medium where she found not just a hobby, but a passion.

One of the first paintings of Monique James Payton
One of the first paintings of Monique Payton (née James)

Monique’s talent in this art form blossomed, and she has since become an accomplished artist. Her work, which she showcases under the name Mos Arts, reflects her personal growth and newfound creative expression.

Her Father Is A Singer

Monique, 58, was born to Mary and Ollan Christopher Bell aka Chris James in Oakland, California where she grew up with older brother Mark James. Her father, Chris is a record producer and vocal artist. According to his Facebook, he went to East Brunswick High School followed by Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina. He currently lives in Douglasville, Georgia.

Monique comes from a mixed ethnic background as her father is of African-American background and her mother is mixed.

About Author: Atticus

Atticus boasts more than seven years of expertise as a writer specializing in the entertainment sector. He possesses a profound knowledge of film, music, and television, crafting compelling stories that engage a wide-ranging audience. His writing is both accessible and enlightening, simplifying intricate subjects for readers from various walks of life.