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When the Buss children found out they had a secret sibling who Dr. Jerry Buss gave up for adoption

Despite Lee's genuine intentions of meeting her long-lost siblings, the Buss siblings were caught off guard, not just at the fact that Lee reached out but also at the idea that their parents never introduced and mentioned their oldest sibling to them.
Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss

Dr. Jerry Buss

In December 2018, Los Angeles Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss received a letter from someone claiming she was Buss' long-lost sibling. Her name is Lee, and she said she would like to meet her mother and the rest of her siblings. Jeanie was extremely surprised after reading the letter and admitted that at that time, she didn't know whether to believe Lee or not, largely because she's witnessed so many random people claim to be her father's long-lost child in the past.

Lee was born in 1953 and is the first child of Dr. Jerry Buss and JoAnn Mueller. She was given up for adoption because, as her adoption papers stated, her parents didn't have the time, finances, and resources to raise her the way they felt she deserved. In 1953, Jerry didn't own the Lakers yet and knew that he would've struggled to support his child. Buss didn't want his first child to have a rough childhood as he did.

"... She was able to get her birth certificate and she sent copies of that. So I immediately recognized my father's and mother's signatures. She sent copies of pictures of her. She looked just like my mom. I remembered my mom told me a story about how she and my father had a child before Johnny was born and they gave her up for adoption," Jeanie Buss revealed in the finale episode of Legacy: The True Story of the Los Angeles Lakers documentary.

The Buss children were caught off guard.

When Jeanie relayed Lee's letter and documents to the rest of the Buss siblings, they were all shocked to hear about their long-lost sibling. Only Jeanie had an idea about Lee, but the rest didn't. All Lee wanted was to see her mother, who was also living the last days of her life because she was dealing with a long-term illness. Lee didn't want money or anything in return from the Buss family.

Despite Lee's genuine intentions, the Buss siblings were caught off guard, not just at the fact that Lee reached out but also at the idea that their parents never introduced and mentioned their oldest sibling to them.

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"I was shocked at first. There was a secret that my parents kept forever. Because of my dad's kind of lifestyle, I always wondered if I had any other siblings out there and she's a full sibling," Janie Buss (Jeanie's sister) said.

"Either they were extremely embarrassed about a lie that got too big to tell the truth or you know, they just felt like it was better unsaid," Johny Buss said.

"It blew my mind that he [Jerry Buss] never mentioned it. I can't even tell you the intimate things that he told me. If anything like that existed, I would for sure believe that," Jim Buss said.

The long-lost child

As for Lee, she admitted that she had no idea about the Buss family and how to find them. She learned that she was adopted in third grade when her teacher told her classmates about her situation. Lee was hurt for a long time but revealed that she was always curious about her mom and if she ever thought about Lee. The eldest child admitted that she took a DNA test as a way to connect with the Buss family.

"… In 2017, on an ad on television, there was an 'give a gift to an ancestor and I went, oh I should I do that?' So I got the kit, spit, mailed it off and said a prayer. I just wanted to meet my mother, that's all I really want to do," Lee said.

"My mom said that 'In my mind, I named her Marie' and that stuck with me because my middle name is Marie and my sister's middle name is Marie. I knew that this was real. This was Marie," Jeanie said.

Lee eventually met her mother days before she passed away. The eldest child also connected with Jeanie and learned more about the Buss family. She mentioned that she was hurt by being given up for adoption, but in the end, she forgave her parents because, after all, family is the most important thing in the world. 

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