Who Were Jessie Buss and JoAnn Mueller? Are They Dead or Alive?

Image Credit: Find a Grave/the Chronicler

HBO’s ‘Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty’ is based on the book ‘Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s’ by Jeff Pearlman. The drama chronicles how the 1980s marked the beginning of a dominant Lakers era after Jerry Buss bought the team. Apart from exploring the basketball side of the team, the show also looks at Jerry’s relationship with his mother, Jessie Buss, and his ex-wife, JoAnn Mueller. So, let’s find out more about these two women from Jerry’s life then, shall we?

Who Were Jessie Buss and JoAnn Mueller?

Jerry was born to Jessie and Lydus in Salt Lake City, Utah, in January 1933. When Jerry was young, his father left the family in the small mining town of Kemmerer, Wyoming, and eventually moved to California to teach statistics at Berkeley. This left Jessie to care for her son all by herself. Jerry didn’t have a childhood filled with riches; his mother worked as a waitress and made ends meet with her tips.

Image Credit: Find a Grave/the Chronicler

But that didn’t stop the two from trying to have a good time. Jessie taught Jerry how to play cards during her free time. He later said, “I could play a reasonable hand of bridge by the time I was 4. We’d gamble for chocolate bars. In the beginning, she’d have this tremendous edge, but then I’d get to where I could compete with her, and she’d switch games. She was always very proud of me that way. She gave me a lot of confidence.”

Jessie later married a plumber named Stub Brown, who apparently didn’t have a great relationship with Jerry. Once Jerry was in his teens, his chemistry teacher at school arranged for a scholarship at the University of Wyoming. There, he pursued chemistry, finishing his course in about two and a half years. It was also where he met JoAnn Mueller, whom he married in 1952. They went on to have four children together, and all of them went on to work in the Lakers organization.

Jeanie wrote of their parents’ relationship in her book later on. She said, “Whatever reservations my mother had about going to the University of Wyoming disappeared one night two months after she arrived. A sophomore named Jerry Buss had invited her to a dance. When he dropped her off at the end of the evening, she told her two roommates, ‘I just met my future husband.'” However, the couple divorced in 1972, with Jerry later having two more children with his partner, Karen Demel.

How Did Jessie Buss and JoAnn Mueller Die?

Jerry also talked about providing a better life for himself and his mother. He added, “There was (a) delight in being able to give my mother a $1,000-a-month apartment, a new car, china, crystal, and silver, take her to Hawaii — things that were important to her. Certainly, if I want something myself, I buy it, but I’ve never been a person who wants things.” Unfortunately, Jessie seems to have passed away, but it’s unclear when it happened. As for JoAnn, she died on December 16, 2019, at the age of 86. Though the exact details have been curtailed from the public, she had been battling an illness for a long time.

Read More: Is Jerry Buss Dead or Alive? How Did He Die?