All About Rome Odunze's Parents, Necia Bunnell and James Odunze

The Washington Husky wide receiver, who's expected to be a top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft on April 25, is the son of Necia Bunnell and James Odunze

<p>Steph Chambers/Getty </p> Rome Odunze of the Washington Huskies.

Steph Chambers/Getty

Rome Odunze of the Washington Huskies.

Meet Rome Odunze's parents.

Born on June 3, 2002, the Washington wide receiver, who is an exciting prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft class, is the son of Necia Bunnell and James Odunze.

A standout football player in high school, Odunze took his talents from his native Las Vegas to Washington to play for the Huskies in 2020. He was a consensus All-American and runner-up for the national championship in 2023.

Now, Odunze believes he's the top wide receiver over fellow prospects heading into this year's NFL Draft. "I'm the complete package," he told ESPN in April 2024.

Odunze often speaks about his work ethic in interviews, citing certain past experiences that shaped him to be the person that he is today. Particularly, he credits the summers he spent working on his mom's family farm that taught him "how to grind."

The athlete has also opened up about his Nigerian heritage from his dad's side of the family, noting that he strives to "keep uplifting" his grandparents and "all those who came before us" on "the stage" that he's been given as he continues his career.

Read on to learn more about Rome Odunze's mom and dad.

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His dad's family is Nigerian

<p>Jonathan Bachman/Getty </p> Rome Odunze of the Washington Huskies in January 2024

Jonathan Bachman/Getty

Rome Odunze of the Washington Huskies in January 2024

Odunze, who says his name means "King's Ivory," has been open about his heritage and how it's shaped him to be the person that he is today. The American-born player is of Nigerian descent on his father's side, which he says "means everything to [him]."

"Back home, my grandfather was one of 50 kids," Odunze told The Pivot Podcast. "My pops, that side of the family, is Nigerian heritage. It's something that really drives me to keep doing what I'm doing because that's where you come from."

"African Americans sometimes don't often know where they come from," he continued. "So for me, I feel super blessed that I know where I come from. I know the village that my grandpa grew up in... it's about honoring them."

Odunze went on to explain what drives him to success. "Coming over here in America with nothing in your pocket and then having your grandson on this stage," he said, adding, "I just feel like we've been tremendously blessed and it's my duty to keep uplifting the name."

His mom grew up in Provo, Utah

<p>Rome Odunze/Instagram</p> Robe Odunze and his mom Necia Bunnell

Rome Odunze/Instagram

Robe Odunze and his mom Necia Bunnell

Necia grew up in Provo, Utah on her family's dairy farm. Currently, she works in Las Vegas real estate but credits her work ethic to her experiences on the farm.

"My upbringing on a dairy farm instilled the value of hard work," reads her relator bio on the company's website. "It is how I am wired and has simply become my way of life."

Necia points to her father who was "the example" of "how to be diligent" as she grew up. "I remember by age eight, having to get up early before school to go feed the cows... this was the place that I learned the values that I have and that I implement today."

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His parents enrolled him in a Catholic high school

<p>Abbie Parr/Getty</p> Rome Odunze of the Washington Huskies in September 2021

Abbie Parr/Getty

Rome Odunze of the Washington Huskies in September 2021

Odunze went to Bishop Gorman, a Nevada high school regarded as a "powerhouse" due to its notable alumni who've made the transition to professional sports upon graduating. The athlete credited his mom and dad for enrolling him in the program, which laid the groundwork that set him up for his football success.

"If I'm really trying to go to do this thing, I'm going to go to Gorman," Odunze told The Pivot Podcast of his thought process when selecting a school in pursuit of his football dream. "My parents worked their asses off to make that happen."

Odunze explained why he believes Bishop Gorman prepared him to be the standout receiver that he is today. "I think it's just how hard it is," he said in reference to training in the Las Vegas summer heat.

"They don't have indoor. It's hard. You're grinding in 115°F, the turf is probably 130°-135°F — I don't even know if it's legal! It's hard," he reemphasized. "There's a progression with everything. Everything is goal oriented."

Odunze described the training as "militant," especially as a young high school athlete. He also said that "being around so much talent" and "the stress" that came with it "builds you for the moment" when "going through those things emotionally and physically."

In fact, the player recalled it being "so tremendously hard" that "college comes easy" afterwards.

His dad is 'history buff'

Odunze told The Pivot Podcast that his dad is a "history buff" and named him after a particular period of the past that interested him the most.

"I think he as just fascinated with the Roman Empire and all that they were able to accomplish. Their influence on society has carried on generations," the football player said of the meaning behind his first name.

His parents instilled a strong work ethic in him at a young age

<p>Cindy Ord/Getty</p> Rome Odunze speaks on SiriusXM at Super Bowl LVIII in February 2024

Cindy Ord/Getty

Rome Odunze speaks on SiriusXM at Super Bowl LVIII in February 2024

Odunze's parents sent him to work on his grandfather's farm in Provo, Utah like his mom did when she was a kid. He opened up to The Pivot Podcast about the hard work ethic instilled in him at a young age during the summers he was away.

While the athlete said it was "fun," while adding it also "teaches you lessons." He explained, "Going there in the summers and farming is no joke. Taking care of animals when that's your job and that's what puts food on the table, it's different because you're dealing with living creatures."

"My grandpa was waking up at 5:00 a.m. and staying up until 11:00 p.m. at night just feeding these animals and taking care of them," he noted. "The work is the work. There's just no room for excuses or else the whole thing crumbles... it was super humbling."

"It taught me to grind," Odunze added.

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His dad wants him to 'do the best' he can

Odunze's family recognizes hard work — but rather than put pressure on specific goals, his family just wants him to try his hardest in all areas of his life.

“For me, there was never really a stress to make sure you’re a doctor or a lawyer, or anything like that. They just wanted me to be successful," the football player said on The Pivot Podcast. “My pops always stressed to do the best you can do in every aspect of your life and for me, a lot of my life has been football or education."

His mom is 'thankful' for his football journey so far

<p>Steph Chambers/Getty </p> Rome Odunze of the Washington Huskies in November 2021

Steph Chambers/Getty

Rome Odunze of the Washington Huskies in November 2021

Necia is a proud mom, often posting her support and love for Odunze on her Instagram page between birthday tributes and football videos. In one post, she described her son as "a man of great character, love, work ethic, vision and grit."

In early January 2024, Necia posted an Instagram video comprised of clips from Odunze's four years as a Washington Husky. "The first thought that comes to mind is gratitude and thankfulness for it all," she captioned the post in part.

"I give thanks to all of our family and friends who have supported us on this journey," she continued. "There have been so many who’ve sacrificed to travel to watch him play and many who’ve cheered him on from their homes. Thank you, it means so much to us!!"

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