Michael Jordan has a softer side

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Michael Jordan may have had the reputation of being a jerk to his teammates, but he showed a much kinder side to the people in his inner circle.

Sunday’s episode of ESPN’s docuseries “The Last Dance” documents Jordan’s close relationship with Gus Lett, his security guard during his run with the Bulls. Jordan had “a real warm spot with his security guards,” according to Ahmad Rashad, especially Lett.

Lett was a former Chicago police officer and a “bit of a bad ass back in the day,” according to Jordan’s friend George Koehler. Lett befriended Jordan when he broke his foot in his second year, and their friendship grew.

“When people felt they were entitled to certain things, Gus put them straight,” Jordan said. “That was Gus. He was a protector, but he was more than that. I saw him for being more than that.”

Michael Jordan
Michael JordanGetty Images

They got so close that Lett became a father figure for Jordan, who had lost his actual father in 1993 after he was murdered in North Carolina.

“[Jordan] would call him crying at two o’clock in the morning, and Gus would get up and go to him,” said Tisher Lett, Gus’s wife. “Whatever he needed, he would take care of him.”

“I had to have him next to me everywhere I went,” Jordan said.

In 1998, Lett was diagnosed with lung cancer. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Jordan helped pay for his medical expenses, and ensured that he was admitted to Northwestern Hospital.

“Michael was the first one to notice him being sick,” Tisher said. “They were traveling some place and he called me to tell me, Tisher, you have to take him to the doctor.”

“He was there in the hospital with us, he was there in my home. He was there for him.”

Later in 1998, Jordan and the Bulls were in one of their toughest battles of their entire dynasty run, the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pacers. Indiana took Chicago to Game 7, only the second time that had happened since their first title.

Before Game 7, Lett returned from his leave of absence to the United Center, frail-looking and 20 pounds lighter. Jordan guaranteed Chicago would win the game — and they did, in a tense affair, with Lett sitting near the sideline.

After the game, Jordan presented Lett with the game ball.

“He was an inspiration,” Jordan said. “I wanted to win this game for Gus.”

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