Being a middle child often comes with negative connotations.
Deemed rebellious, ignored, and outright neglected because of their birth order, individuals who suffer from middle child syndrome have a reputation of being stereotyped as the “Black Sheep” of the family.
However, it doesn’t appear to be the case for all.
Some people sandwiched between their younger and older siblings grow up to do big things and these overachieving stars and celebrities have undoubtedly impacted the world with their relentless courage and notable contributions.
In honor of National Middle Child Day, let’s take a look at these 10 Black stars and change-makers who were born smack dab in the middle.
1. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.Source:Getty
Civil rights icon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. undoubtedly trailblazed the movement for change and social justice in America. In 1964, he won a Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. The year prior, the Atlanta native orchestrated the historic March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. MLK was preparing to launch The Poor’s People Campaign dedicated to gaining economic justice for poor and lower class people in the United States Before his death in 1968.
King is the middle of three siblings. His older sister, Dr. Christine King Farris, was a professor at Spelman College and has written several books. His younger brother, Alfred Daniel, also an activist and pastor, drowned in his home swimming pool just 15 months after King was assassinated.
2. Michael JordanSource:Getty
Michael Jordan, the basketball legend affectionately dubbed “Air Jordan,” cemented his name in NBA history as the greatest basketball player of all time during his run with the Chicago Bulls. Throughout his 15-year tenure with the league, Jordan won six championships, five MVP awards, and three All-Star Game MVP Awards in addition to a long list of achievements.
The Basketball Hall Of Fame Inductee is one of five kids: Three older siblings Larry, James, and Deloris, and younger sister Roslyn. According to their father, Jordan’s eldest brother, “Larry was the son with the future in basketball—until Michael shot up five inches between his sophomore and junior year of high school,” Elite Daily noted. Michael reportedly chose the number 23 because he hoped to be even half as good as his brother, who wore number 45.
3. Tracee Ellis RossSource:Getty
Actress, entrepreneur, and notoriously funny Tracee Ellis Ross has been warming the hearts of fans with her charismatic roles on TV and big screens since 2000. The star made her acting debut on UPN’s hit show Girlfriends where she starred as powerhouse lawyer Joan Clayton. Since then, Ross has gone on to appear in a number of TV and film projects including CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and more notably ABC’s “Black-ish.”
Ross is the daughter of actress and Motown recording artist Diana Ross and Robert Ellis Silberstein. The Pattern Beauty founder has an older sister, singer, and songwriter Rhonda Ross Kendrick, and a younger brother, musician Evan Ross.
4. John LegendSource:Getty
John Legend is a “legend” in his own right. The sultry R&B crooner and pianist catapulted to stardom with the debut of his first studio album “Get Lifted” in 2004. The album sold over 2.1 million copies in the U.S. instantly earning the star-certified double platinum stripes. In 2006, Legend landed his first Grammy for Best R&B album along with Best New Artist and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for the album’s hit single “Ordinary People.”
John was born right in the middle of his three siblings- Ronald Stephens II, younger brother Vaughn Stephens, and younger sister, Phyllis “Missy” Stephens.
5. Eddie MurphySource:Getty
Eddie Murphy, the beloved comedian rose to fame on the sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live,” for which he was a regular cast member from 1980 to 1984 and the rest was history. Murphy, who also worked as a stand-up comedian has received a long list of awards and nominations throughout his lengthy acting career.
Notable achievements include his Golden Globe Award nominations for his performances in 48 Hrs., the Beverly Hills Cop series, Trading Places, The Nutty Professor, and Dolemite Is My Name. In 2007, he won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of soul singer James “Thunder” Early in Dreamgirls.
Murphy’s older brother Charlie Murphy, who passed away after a difficult battle with Leukemia in 2017, was close to the star and also was well respected in the TV and film industry, famously appearing on Comedy Central’s Chapelle’s Show.
Fans might be surprised to learn of the former SNL cast member’s younger half-brother Vernon Jr. Eddie and Charlie’s mother married her second husband Vernon Lynch Sr, shortly after their father’s death. Vernon Jr. was born upon their union. The half-brother to the comedian chose to venture into the music industry separating himself from his famous siblings.
6. LiAngelo BallSource:Getty
While LiAngelo Ball, born November 24, 1998, is more infamous than he is famous, his upward trajectory shows he, like his younger and older brothers, are headed toward possible greatness in the game of basketball.
Ball played for Chino Hills High School in California, where he won a state championship and achieved national success as a junior with his older brother Lonzo, and younger brother LaMelo, who are both current NBA stars.
However, LiAngelo’s image quickly crumbled after he was suspended from UCLA’s basketball team as a freshman for shoplifting in China just before the 2017–18 season. In turn, Ball later signed with the Lithuanian professional team Prienai.
The 24-year-old has also gained much attention from his father, former NFL athlete LaVar Ball, who has drawn much criticism over the years for his controversial comments like last year when he dismissed living legend Stephen Curry for being “too little,” to compete against his son Melo in a game of one on one.
Despite the criticism, good news might be ahead for the bubbling basketball star. Some analysts project that LiAngelo might be heading to play for the Hornets in the upcoming 2021/2022 NBA season.
7. Zoe SaldanaSource:Getty
Zoe Saldana, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” actress is one of three sisters and adorably enough, the 43-year-old star works alongside her eldest sister, Mariel Saldana Nazario, and youngest, Cisely Saldana Nazario in Hollywood. The sisterly trio joined forces to create their production company Cinestar in 2017. Since the launch, the company has helped to develop and bring a number of shows to TV screens like NBC miniseries, “Rosemary’s Baby,” and the AOL digital series, “My Hero,” Insider notes.
8. Jaden SmithSource:Getty
The son of actors Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, Jaden Smith came into the world destined for stardom much like his famous parents. The young actor and singer-songwriter wowed fans when he starred alongside his father in 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness and again appeared on the big screen in a remake of 1984’s The Karate Kid.
In 2014 the star set aside his acting career to head into the world of music where he released a number of mixtapes before finally debuting with his first studio album Syre in 2017. The album boasted hits like “Fallen” and “Batman.” Jaden has proved he can do it all and his latest venture into the eco-scious space proves just that. In 2015, he launched JUST Water, a beverage brand that has found success in the marketplace while helping the environment. JUST Water comes in a carton that is nearly 90% plant-derived materials. Over half of the carton is made from responsibly harvested paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, proving to be less harsh on the environment, according to The Business Download. The company even sources its water from the Adirondack Mountains, delivering a more sustainable approach.
9. Michael JacksonSource:Getty
While Michael Jackson may not have been born exactly in the middle of his nine other siblings, he was neither firstborn nor the last, making him completely eligible for this list.
His accomplishments precede him and his legacy still reverberates through the current incarnation of pop music and dancing.
For the record, Michael Jackson is the eighth child born to Joe and Katherine Jackson, but he was number 1 on the charts for most of his life.
His brothers and sisters — Rebbie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, LaToya, Marlon, Brandon (who died shortly after birth), Randy and Janet — are no slouches, either.
10. Seth CurrySource:Getty
The love for sports pulses throughout the veins of the Curry family and Seth Curry has certainly made a name for himself in the NBA. Seth dominates the court as a shooting guard for the Philadelphia 76ers and previously he was signed with the Portland Trailblazers and Dallas Mavericks where he scored a career-high of 23 points over the Los Angeles Lakers in 2016.