Who Is Russell Westbrooks' Wife, Nina Westbrook?

For NBA fans, basketball star Russell Westbrook needs no introduction. Known for his fierce competitiveness on the court — personified by the intimidating scowl encountered by opponents — the Los Angeles Clippers point guard is renowned as one of the top players in the league. Joining the Clippers during the 2022-23 season, he began his NBA career with the Oklahoma City Thunder before being traded to the Houston Rockets and then to the Washington Wizards. He then spent two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and was then traded to the Utah Jazz, with the Clippers buying out his contract before he played even a single game with the Jazz. Over the course of his career, he's played in nine NBA All-Star Games (named most valuable player twice) and was named the NBA's MVP in 2017.

In 2015, Westbrook married wife Nina Westbrook. A world apart from the "basketball wife" stereotype, she's a highly educated entrepreneur with imposing credentials (including a surprisingly impressive college degree), her own businesses, and an unwavering commitment to using her talents to help others. In recent years, her profile has been heightened even further with an exciting new media venture that's led her to step well beyond her husband's long shadow as a world-class athlete, becoming a celebrity in her own right.

To find out more about this fascinating female, keep on reading for an expansive answer to the question, who is Russell Westbrooks' wife, Nina Westbrook?

Nina Westbrook was a top college athlete

Before marrying Russell Westbrook, Nina Westbrook was known as Nina Earl. As a teenager, she attended Diamond Ranch High School in Pomona, California, where she distinguished herself as a talented athlete in a variety of sports, including basketball and track and field. Basketball, however, was her true passion; while she played for Diamond Ranch High, the team made it to two California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) title games in 2003 and again in 2007. In addition, she was named two-time CIF Player of the Year and was declared league MVP not just once but three times. 

Her basketball skills brought her to UCLA on an athletic scholarship, where her talent and her 6-foot-1 length made her a formidable forward for the UCLA Bruins women's basketball team. According to UCLA, she was lauded for her ability to play any position and also earned a reputation as one of the team's fastest players. 

Years after she graduated, her past status as a UCLA basketball star was at the center of controversy when she and her husband attended a UCLA women's basketball game together — and a banner displayed during a televised shot of the couple sitting in the stands referenced Russell's history as a former UCLA player, while utterly ignoring hers.

She met her future husband while they attended UCLA

While Nina Westbrook (then Earl) played for the UCLA women's basketball team, her future husband, Russell Westbrook, was similarly distinguishing himself on the court for the university's men's basketball team. With both part of the UCLA basketball program, it was inevitable that they would meet — and when they did, they immediately clicked. In 2007, the two athletes began dating.

As she recalled during an appearance with her husband on "The Jennifer Hudson Show," she first saw Russell while she was still in high school, while touring the UCLA campus. "I knew him immediately," she told Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson of the instant spark she felt from him. "He was pretty there, always, as soon as I got on campus," she added. Her husband, however, offered a slightly less nuanced version of the start of their relationship. "You know, I see what I wanted and I took it," he said, eliciting hoots and cheers from the studio audience. "I just don't even remember the story happening that way," Nina quipped in response.

She also looked back on how they got together while being interviewed by "Access Hollywood." "The beginning of our relationship was really fun," she said, revealing that they even faced off against each other on the basketball court.

She once beat her husband at one-on-one basketball

Nina Earl and future husband Russell Westbrook began their relationship by playing basketball together. "We did play one-on-one one time, but we were both very competitive," she said when the couple appeared together on "The Jennifer Hudson Show." "So, after I beat him the first time ... it got a little ugly ... and I decided I was gonna stay on top, and so we never played again since then."

She added more details about that game when she spoke with "Access Hollywood." "I'd beat Russell in one-on-one," she said, indicating his competitive nature led him to take some liberties with the rules. "I had to stop playing him because he became a cheater, so I'm like, 'If the only way you can beat me is by cheating, then we don't need to play anymore."

Since then, of course, the couple has learned to channel their competitiveness constructively and combine their respective drives to win in order to achieve a common goal. "I feel like we now understand the concept that we need to work together," she explained. "It's like us against, you know, all of the obstacles that we're facing at any point."

She's a licensed therapist with a master's degree in psychology

Unlike husband Russell Westbrook, Nina Westbrook did not pursue a professional career in basketball after graduating from UCLA. In fact, as hard as she played on the court for the Bruins, she studied even harder. After earning a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in English, she then attained a master's degree in clinical psychology and went on to become a therapist, specializing in marriage and family counseling. 

In a 2013 interview with ESPN, Russell heaped praise on the academic ambitions of his then-girlfriend, who was then still studying at UCLA. "But she's a smart girl," he said. "She's in school right now, trying to get her master's in psychology. She knows what she wants to do in life, which is great. That's easy for me to cope with."

After earning her degree and becoming a licensed therapist, she began putting the knowledge she'd attained to practical use. "I started working as a marriage and family therapist in community-based counseling centers and then moved to inpatient facilities where I had the opportunity to serve children and adolescents who were struggling with mood disorders as well as victims of sexual trauma," she said in an interview with VoyageLA, explaining the kind of work that she'd focused on in her practice.

Her 2015 wedding to Russell Westbrook was a star-studded affair

Russell Westbrook was already an established NBA star by the time he and Nina Earl tied the knot in 2015. It was a lavish ceremony held at the famed Beverly Hills Hotel. As People reported, the guest list included some of Westbrook's teammates, including fellow NBA star Kevin Durant. Other basketball players in attendance were Kevin Love, Serge Ibaka, Dorell Wright, and James Harden (with the latter accompanied by reality star Khloé Kardashian as his plus-one), while R&B singer Keri Hilson was also on hand. Meanwhile, guests at the reception were treated to a surprise performance from Miguel.

After the ceremony, the bride — who took her husband's surname to become Nina Westbrook — took to Instagram to share a photo of the couple taken during the wedding. "My Mr." she wrote in the caption, accompanied by a heart emoji and the date of the nuptials, August 29, 2015.

Seven years later, Westbrook praised his wife for the sacrifices that she'd made so that he could successfully pursue a career in the NBA, which had seen him playing for various teams in different cities. "She's been holding s*** down from start to finish, and now been able to see her grow into the things that she's been wanting to do while still supporting me ..." he told People in 2022. "I'm just grateful to have a partner able to do all that sacrifice. Now we're here."

She's the mother of three

After they married, it didn't take long for Russell Westbrook and Nina to start a family. In May 2017, the couple welcomed their first child, their son Noah, sharing the news via social media. The following year, they revealed they were expecting twin daughters, with twin sisters Skye and Jordyn arriving in November 2018. What Nina hadn't shared at the time, however, was how difficult that second pregnancy had actually been. "The reality is that my pregnancy with Skye and Jordyn was high risk and we did run into unforeseen complications during delivery, which was really scary," she wrote in a November 2018 Instagram post.

Being the mother of three young children is certainly not without its challenges, yet Nina Westbrook has taken to motherhood with a passion. "They're so funny," Westbrook said of her children in an interview with Darling. "They brighten me up and they inspire me, even when they are driving me up the wall," she added. "It's unconditional love. It's unexplainable. I wasn't really sure what that was before having kids. It's been cool to discover." 

In addition to teaching her about love, having three children also provided her with some key lessons about patience. "If you're anything like me, you want things to happen very quickly and you want all of your hard work to come to fruition quickly," she explained, advising other mothers to avoid being too hard on themselves.

She opened her own children's boutique and launched a line of children's clothing

Over the course of Russell Westbrook's tenure with the Oklahoma City Thunder (from 2008 to 2019), Nina Westbrook came to the realization that as much as she wanted to continue working as a therapist, it simply wasn't feasible to continue her practice. "Because my husband's work requires us to move, we lived in multiple states throughout the year and practicing as a therapist in a traditional sense became very difficult," she explained in an interview with Darling. "I decided to shift gears and took that as an opportunity to explore other interests."

That shifting of gears led her to unleash her inner entrepreneur with the 2018 launch of The Little Ark, an Oklahoma City retail outlet specializing in kids' clothing and other items geared toward children. "I got really interested in kids' retail, and I thought that starting a children's apparel store would be a good learning experience," she told the outlet.

That experience in children's retail later inspired Westbrook to launch Minibrook in 2020, her own line of sustainable children's clothing. "I think the natural progression from owning a clothing boutique is owning the product that you sell in it," Westbrook told AfroTech. As of June 2024, The Little Ark appears to have closed, while the Minibrook website and Instagram page have been shuttered.

Nina Westbrook launched a website devoted to women's self-care and mental health

In 2022, Nina Westbrook delved into her background in therapy to launch Bene By Nina, an online platform focusing on strategies to improve mental health, targeting Black women while also incorporating self-care and wellness. "One of the major pillars of the Bene brand is raising mental health awareness and providing tools to embrace mental health," she explained in an interview with Essence. As she told PopSugar, the site is a judgment-free zone where women can find numerous options to promote their own self-care, encouraging them to discover what works best for them. "I think that we just have to give ourselves the grace and allow ourselves to prioritize our feelings and our emotions and the things that we go through and take care of ourselves so we can be these strong, amazing women that we are set out to be," she explained.

As a licensed therapist, Westbrook is a firm believer that when people focus on improving their own mental health, it, in turn, betters the world around them on a larger scale. "Prioritizing our mental health not only enhances a sense of personal happiness but also supports healthier communities as it fosters a culture of empathy and care," she explained when interviewed by Forbes

She created her own conversation-starting card game for couples

As an offshoot of her Bene by Nina website, Nina Westbrook also created her own card game. According to its website, Do Tell is not a typical card game, but is designed to afford players the opportunity to reveal themselves in order to foster closer relationships. "It's a game that encourages vulnerability and reveals commonalities across groups and individuals, reminding us all that we aren't on this journey through life alone," the site declared.

Not surprisingly, Do Tell is a direct outgrowth of Westbrook's experience as a marriage and family therapist, reflecting the same philosophy that she utilized when counseling her clients. "The best way to get to know a person is through questions to forge deeper relationships," she explained in an interview with Essence. "When you ask questions, that's how you grow intimacy and connection. Playing the game will help us remain present in conversation with one another."

Appearing on "The Jennifer Hudson Show," Westbrook revealed that the genesis of the game came from her own love of having conversations that brought up a meaningful connection with others, loosely basing the format on the tried-and-true party game Truth or Dare. "I wanted to create something fun that didn't feel like it was hard work, where people could be vulnerable, express and think about some of the things that we don't typically get a chance to think about ..." she explained.

She and her husband founded their own charity

As a couple, Russell and Nina Westbrook have made a concentrated effort to give back by founding their own charity, the Why Not Foundation. As the foundation's website pointed out, its goal is right there in the title: encouraging young people in at-risk communities with the tools to empower themselves, teaching them that whenever an opportunity emerges, their only question about embracing it should be, "Why not?"

As she told HuffPost, the Why Not Foundation helps her further her mission of promoting the importance of taking care of one's own mental health. "It's shaped my mission and why I do the things that I do, because I want people to be able to see people like me out there: people from our communities, people from communities of color," she explained.

Among the couple's philanthropic efforts to emerge from the foundation was a 2020 endeavor to donate computers to underprivileged youngsters when schools switched from classrooms to online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. The following year, the foundation partnered with the L.A. Promise Fund to launch the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy, which comprised two Los Angeles-area schools, one a middle school and the other a high school. As People reported, Russell and Nina Westbrook both sat on the school's board in order to oversee its development.

She's endured harassment from basketball fans

While there are undoubtedly perks to being married to a multimillionaire NBA star, Nina Westbrook has also discovered the downside. She made that clear when she tweeted about some particularly nasty messages she'd been receiving on social media from basketball fans attacking her over her husband's performance on the court. "When I'm being harassed on a daily basis over basketball games, and I'm having obscenity's [sic] and death wishes for me and my family sent my way because you're expressing your truth, it's hard for me to get on board with that," she wrote.

Russell Westbrook addressed Nina's comments during a post-game press conference in March 2022. "I one-hundred-percent stand behind my wife with how she's feeling ... she's reached a point, and my family's reached a point where it's really weighing on them," he said. "I don't even want to bring my kids to the game because I don't want them to hear people calling their dad names."

Speaking with People, Nina echoed her husband's remarks about their children, admitting she was saddened that they were forced to confront such ugliness at such a young age. "I have skills and people I turn to for advice, so fortunately for me, I'm not very affected by things that happen outside of my circle," she said, "but my kids are young, and they don't have that same experience."

Nina Westbrook took her expertise as a family therapist to her own podcast

In the summer of 2023, Nina Westbrook expanded the media empire she'd started with her Bene website with the launch of her own podcast, "The Relationship Chronicles." In a post on her website, she explained the impetus behind the podcast, which benefited from her experience as a therapist and the training that she'd undertaken to get there. In her podcast, the post explained that Westbrook would discuss topics related to love, relationships, parenting, and more with guests, including her friends, various experts, and even celebrities.

"We're talking about everything," Westbrook divulged in an interview with Essence. "It goes along with my scope as a licensed marriage and family therapist. What we do is help people identify how they work within a system; that could be a relationship with food, it could be a relationship with money, it could be friendships, parenting, it could mean romantic relationships, marriage," she continued. There are so many different relationships that we balance throughout our daily lives, so we're tackling everything, depending on who's coming on."

For Westbrook, producing a podcast in which she and others can discuss issues about which she's passionate was not only a no-brainer, it was also an extension of her earlier iteration as a therapist. "So I just found something that I was already passionate about naturally and pursued that further and I love it," she gushed.