Amber and Amari Whiting - Mother-Daughter Basketball Duo
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The Y Report

All in the Family

Amber and Amari Whiting pose in their BYU warmups
Amari (left) and Amber Whiting are a powerhouse mother-daughter duo in BYU women’s basketball. Photo by Bradley Slade.

At the 2022 Idaho State Championships, as high school junior guard Amari L. Whiting (’27) was setting tournament scoring records on the court, her mother, Amber Russell Whiting (BA ’01), roamed the sidelines, coaching the Burley High Bobcats to a state title. A few rows up sat father and former pro basketball player Trenton W. Whiting (BA ’03). And watching virtually from 5,000 miles away in Finland was brother Jace Whiting—then a missionary, now a Boise State point guard.

“[Basketball] is almost like a love language for our family,” says Amber, now the BYU women’s basketball head coach.

Hoops have always connected the Whitings. Amber and Trent both played at BYU before Trent played in Italy for 12 years and Amber got into coaching. “Basketball is where we all were taught our life lessons,” says Amari. “And being able to share the love of basketball, it made us closer.”

That connection will only continue to grow: when Amber was hired as the BYU women’s basketball coach going into the 2022–23 season, Amari, a sought-after recruit, flipped her commitment from Oregon to play for her mom at BYU.

The 2023–24 season—both Amari’s freshman year and BYU’s first in the Big 12—is a big deal for the Whitings. Not only is Amari adapting to collegiate basketball, she’s also returning from an ACL injury last October.

As a mom and a coach, watching Amari recover from her injury has been especially poignant for Amber. “Just knowing how much work she put in, knowing all the behind-the-scenes stuff . . . and seeing how it came to fruition for her,” she says, “that’s an incredible experience.”

It’s not all basketball with the Whitings. “I tend to take basketball home with us,” says Amber. “[But] I’m realizing at this level, having a break is much more important.” Amber and Amari prioritize spending other time together, getting their nails done and chatting.

Amari says any struggles of having her mom coaching her up from the sideline are worth it: “She knows my strengths, she knows my weaknesses. I feel comfortable on the court because I know that she will always put me in the best position,” Amari explains. “And it’s the same thing off the court. I just trust her.”