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Cleveland native Simone Jelks becomes NBA's 7th full-time female referee

The Brush graduate was promoted to full-time status by the NBA last week.
Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File

NEW YORK — Cleveland native Simone Jelks is a woman of many talents. A published author, a former professional basketball player, and now a full-time NBA official.

Last week, Jelks was one of three referees promoted to full-time status by the NBA, making her the fifth woman on the current lineup of officials.

Jelks joins the group of female NBA referees that also includes Lauren Holtkamp-Sterling, Ashley Moyer-Gleich, Natalie Sago and Jenna Schroeder. Jelks becomes the seventh female full-time ref in NBA history, with the current five preceded by Dee Kantner and Violet Palmer.

The 2004 graduate of Brush High School worked 16 regular-season NBA games as a non-staff official last season. The former USC player has also worked games in the G League for the last three seasons.

While at Brush, Jelks completed her career as the school's boys and girls career scoring leader with 1,397 points. She was a 2004 McDonald's All-American nominee and a two-time (2003, 2004) Western Reserve Conference North Division MVP and first-team all-conference selection. She also won the 2002 WKYC Channel 3 Leadership Award.

In 2017, Jelks published One on One: A Gentleman's Guide to Dating Ambitious Womena book "written from the perspective of an ambitious woman and delivered using the language of athletes." The book was designed to give men "key skills to improve your overall game. Building a championship team with your ambitious woman before you meet her, while you are together, and even after experiencing some setbacks are the key areas of focus."

Suyash Mehta and Andy Nagy were also promoted to full-time on Wednesday. They have a combined 11 years of G League experience and each worked 13 NBA games in non-staff roles last season.

"We are pleased to welcome Simone, Suyash and Andy to our full-time staff," said Monty McCutchen, the NBA's senior vice president overseeing referee development and training. "They have demonstrated through the growth and the quality of their performance, they warrant working NBA games on a regular basis."

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Editor's Note: The below story aired on December 16, 2020