Nikola Jokić’s older brothers, Strahinja and Nemanja, have followed their brother’s basketball career since day one
Basketball runs in the family for brothers Nikola Jokić, Strahinja Jokić and Nemanja Jokić.
Their father, Branislav Jokić, and his wife raised their three sons in the family’s hometown of Sombor, Serbia. Their father was an agricultural engineer, and the boys grew up prioritizing family above all else.
The Denver Nuggets selected Nikola in the 2014 NBA draft, and he officially joined the team the next year. He has received numerous accolades during his professional basketball career, including the 2023 NBA Championship, the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award, two NBA MVP Awards and five NBA All-Star Game appearances.
“Basketball is not the main thing in my life and probably never going to be,” Nikola told reporters of balancing career and family at the 2023 NBA Finals. “And, to be honest, I like it because I have something more at home that is more important than basketball.”
From their childhood in Serbia to their big move to the U.S. for Nikola’s NBA career, here's everything to know about Nikola, Strahinja and Nemanja Jokić.
They grew up together in Serbia
Growing up, the Jokić brothers, their parents and their grandmother lived in a small apartment in Sombor, where they also hosted regular stays from their extended family members.
"It was my mom, dad, me, my two brothers and my grandma," Nikola recalled in an essay for The Players’ Tribune. "It was always a full house. My brothers — cousins really, but in Serbia we call them brothers — also came over. It was always a full house of people, and we always mess around. We were crazy kids. We were making a lot of noise."
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Nikola described the competitive relationship he had with his older brothers, particularly Strahinja. "He once held down my arms and threw knives all around my head," Nikola said. "That was a little crazy."
They all had careers in basketball
Nikola wasn’t the first Jokić brother to become a professional basketball player. In fact, he got his passion for the sport from his older brothers.
Strahinja was a professional basketball player in Serbia for several different teams before he retired. Nemanja played for the University of Detroit Mercy before transferring to the C.W. Post Campus at Long Island University. He played one season with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Steamers of the Premier Basketball League before returning to play in Serbia, per Slam magazine.
"When I was a kid, I just watched my brothers," Nikola recalled in his 2016 essay for The Players' Tribune. "They play basketball, too. We had some courts outside in our hometown. When they would play on those courts, I would watch when I was a little baby with my pacifier. I mix a little bit of both of them. One is talented, one is really strong. I’m a little bit talented, and a little bit strong."
He noted that the family had a miniature basketball hoop in their apartment — much to the dismay of their downstairs neighbors.
Nikola’s brothers and parents support him at his games
Denver Nuggets fans are likely in the stands alongside Strahinja and Nemanja, who are known to be vocal during games. When a game is close, Strahinja moves seats to sit separately and punch chairs — a tenseness that reportedly runs in the family. Their parents are also passionate fans when they come to visit.
“Our dad is really passionate about watching the games,” Nemanja told Bleacher Report. “He screams, yells. Nobody sits around him.”
In 2023, Nikola spoke at an NBA Finals press conference about his family’s lifelong support. "My mom and dad was always supporting [me], my dad especially. He always thought that I could be something more,” he told reporters. “When I go to the other city, then my older brother took that role and he lived with me. Then we came to the United States, and then my brother, Nemanja, who lived here before … we get together, and it's just a nice journey."
The brothers are on social media
Strahinja and Nemanja share a Jokić Brothers account on X (formerly known as Twitter). Over the years, they’ve shared both their thoughts about the game and even some smack talk.
Nikola, on the other hand, deleted his social media accounts several years ago. “I think it’s a waste of time,” he said in a 2023 postgame interview clip shared by HoopsHype.
Nikola and Strahinja helped turn Nemanja’s life around
Nemanja had a tough start to his basketball career, he told SI in 2017.
"I made mistakes," Nemanja said. “When I was young, basketball wasn't my No. 1 priority. Going out, having fun, drinking, girls, that was my No. 1 priority. I was making my own decisions — 'I'm not going to practice' — when I still needed family support. That's what I was missing."
When Nikola joined the Nuggets in 2015, his brothers moved to Denver with him. Although Nemanja was confident that his little brother wouldn’t slip up like he did, he and Strahinja wanted to give their youngest brother the support they wanted in their own careers.
"He's an intelligent guy and I'm confident he wouldn't get off track here," Nemanja told the outlet. "But this is such an important time and I want him to have the kind of support I didn't. I always tell him, 'You're living my dream. Don't take it for granted. Don't make the mistakes we made.' "
The brothers have passions for other sports
After Nemanja played basketball, he pursued a career as an MMA fighter. According to Marca, he won his first fight by technical knockout. ESPN reported in 2023 that Nemanja was undefeated in his three professional fights. He has also competed in amateur Muay Thai tournaments, including the 2021 Sparta Combat League: Army vs. Marines event where he defeated William Vandervier.
In 2019, their father Branislav spoke to Agence France-Presse about Nikola’s passion for horse racing, which he “inherited” from his father. The Jokić family owns a small stable with some of their horses competing in harness racing, per France 24.
“At some point in my life I started to go into horse racing,” Nikola told Slam in 2016. “I just fell in love with horses and their beauty and elegance. It was like a hobby for me. I didn’t get serious with it.”
Growing up, Nikola and his brothers cleaned the stables before they went to school. These days, the family enjoys riding around the track and watching competitions.
“I buy a friend,” Nikola joked to Bleacher Report about adopting his first horse, Dream Catcher. “He don’t talk, but we can talk, you know?” He also said that if he weren’t playing basketball, he would be working as a stable boy.
The brothers are uncles to Nikola’s daughter
Nikola and his wife, Natalija Jokić, welcomed their daughter, Ognjena Jokić, in September 2021. She was in the stands with her mother and uncles cheering on her father when his team beat the Miami Heat to win the 2023 NBA Championship. She has regularly attended games with her family.
"I think all of us who have a wife and kids should be happy with the persons we have beside us," Nikola shared with Arena Sport. "When you have a normal life, it lifts you up and only helps you."
Strahinja and Nemanja went viral for their confrontation with the Morris brothers
In 2021, Strahinja and Nemanja created their Twitter account just to respond to tweets from the Morris twins, who were playing for the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers. During a game between the Nuggets and the Heat, Markieff Morris committed a hard foul on Nikola. Nikola then shoved Markieff in the back, starting an altercation between the two teams on the court. Nikola was suspended for one game and Markieff was fined $50,000 for his part in the altercation. Markieff also sustained whiplash from the shove and could not play for four months, per the Associated Press.
Strahinja and Nemanja created an account to respond to Marcus. “You should leave this the way it is instead of publicly threatening our brother! Your brother made a dirty play first,” they wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “If you want to make a step further, be sure we will be waiting for you !!”
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