Martha Jane Kane: Biography of Jerry West’s ex-wife

They say behind every great man is a great woman. For basketball legend Jerry West, that woman was his first wife, Martha Jane Kane.

While Jerry’s exploits on the court as a player and executive have been extensively documented, far less is known about the powerful presence who was by his side through many of his career-defining moments.

In this comprehensive biography, we’ll pull back the curtain on Martha Jane Kane – exploring her personal life, career, her famed relationship with Jerry West, and her overall legacy.

Get ready to discover the remarkable woman who was the wife of “The Logo” and “Mr. Clutch.”

Who is Martha Jane Kane?

Martha Jane Kane is best known as the ex-wife of Jerry West, the iconic former player and current executive for the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Los Angeles Lakers.

Her fame is intrinsically tied to her marriage to one of the greatest basketball players and sports figures of all time.

Little-Known Facts About Martha

Despite being married to a celebrity, Martha herself has remained quite private over the years. Here are a few seldom-discussed facts about this elusive personality:

  • She authored a book titled “Delighted with Grasmere: An Idyll of the Vale” published in the early 1970s, hinting at her literary talents.
  • Martha was an avid painter, with some of her landscape artwork being displayed at local galleries during her marriage to Jerry.
  • She was born and raised in West Virginia, the same home state as her famous husband, creating an undeniable connection through their Appalachian roots.

Martha Jane Kane: Personal Profile

Behind every great man is a great woman, and for basketball legend Jerry West, that woman was Martha Jane Kane.

Although she preferred to stay out of the limelight, Martha’s pivotal role as Jerry’s wife and the mother of their three children cemented her place in sports history.

The personal profile details we do know about her life paint the picture of a private but resilient partner who dedicated herself to family.

Personal DetailMartha Jane Kane
Full NameMartha Jane Kane
Date of BirthNot publicly known
Current AgeNot disclosed
BooksDelighted with Grasmere: An Idyll of the Vale
Famous AsThe ex-wife of Jerry West
SpouseJerry West (m. 1960 – div. 1976)
ChildrenMichael West, Mark West, David West



Much of Martha Jane Kane’s personal history and background remains shrouded in mystery. Public records reveal little about her childhood, family life, or upbringing.

What is known is that she hailed from West Virginia – the same humble region that produced her future husband Jerry West.

It was likely in this rural Appalachian setting where a young Martha first crossed paths with the man who would become her spouse and the father of her three children. Their love story, unfortunately, remains largely untold to the masses.

We can speculate that Martha’s life took an incredibly dynamic turn when she became Mrs. West in 1960.

At that point, she went from a relative unknown to the wife of one of the brightest stars in professional basketball – a transition few could fathom.

The Woman Behind the Basketball Star

Imagine it – Martha Jane Kane, a regular West Virginia girl, suddenly being whisked away to Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world.

With Jerry’s career taking off with the iconic Lakers franchise, she had a front-row seat to one of sports’ greatest shows.

Martha lived through the numerous game-winning shots, MVP awards, scoring records, while raising their three sons.

Her steadfast presence and support went widely unpublicized, but it was undoubtedly invaluable to the triumphs of the great Jerry West.


Frustratingly little information exists about Martha Jane Kane’s professional career choices or ambitions outside of her role as a wife and mother.

Scattered evidence hints that she may have pursued creative outlets like writing and painting, but the details are scarce.

So to provide proper context, let’s shift our focus to the career that made Martha Jane Kane a household name – that of her husband, Jerry West.

Jerry West was simply one of the Greatest of All Time in the sport of basketball. His list of accolades is staggering:

  • 14x All-Star (record at the time)
  • 1 x NBA Champion (1972)
  • 4x All-NBA First Team
  • 10x NBA scoring champion
  • Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee
  • One of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players in history

Nicknames like “Mr. Clutch”, “The Logo”, and “Zeke from Cabin Creek” became synonymous with West’s legendary play and ice-cold shooting ability in high-pressure situations.

Career Highlights:

1960Led West Virginia to NCAA Final
1960Won Olympic Gold Medal for USA Basketball
1972NBA Champion with the Los Angeles Lakers
1980Retired with the most points scored by a guard (25,192)
1996Inducted into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

While her husband achieved rare air on the basketball court, Martha Jane Kane was alongside for the ride, lending her unwavering support and experiencing the wild journey of an elite professional athlete’s spouse.

Summary of Her Relationship with Jerry West

Martha Jane Kane’s life became permanently intertwined with Jerry West’s when the young college sweethearts married in April 1960 in Morgantown, West Virginia. Their union produced three sons – David, Mark, and Michael West.

For 16 years, Martha experienced all the peaks and valleys of being married to a professional basketball superstar.

She witnessed Jerry leading West Virginia to the NCAA final, winning an Olympic gold medal, being drafted by the Lakers, and ultimately claiming an NBA championship ring in 1972.

The storybook relationship was not to last forever. In 1976, after over a decade and a half as husband and wife, Martha Jane Kane and Jerry West divorced under undisclosed circumstances.

Life After Divorce

Little is known about Martha’s life after her divorce from Jerry West. Like many women of her era who parted ways with their celebrity spouse, she likely faced significant personal and financial challenges.

Re-building one’s identity, finding purpose, and achieving financial independence afteraco-MLB difficult transition.

Martha displayed resilience and perseverance in her quiet way – writing books, pursuing artistic endeavors, and raising three sons as a single mother.

Net Worth

Unfortunately, Martha Jane Kane’s current net worth is not a matter of public record. Her ex-husband Jerry West, on the other hand, has accrued an estimated net worth of $50 million through his playing and executive career.

As a top player in the 1960s and 1970s, West would have earned millions in salary and endorsements by today’s standards. His subsequent success as a coach and executive only added to that fortune over the decades.

It’s common for high-profile divorce proceedings to result in a splitting of assets, so it’s possible Martha received a sizable settlement after ending her marriage to the basketball great. However, the details of any such arrangement remain private.

Final Thoughts

Though she may have remained in the shadows, Martha Jane Kane’s life was forever impacted by her marriage to one of the biggest stars in basketball history – Jerry West.

From small-town beginnings to footsteps away from NBA grandeur, she was the resilient spouse who supported ambition, weathered successes and setbacks, and ultimately displayed grace in pursing her own identity.

Martha’s full story may never be told, but her mark has been left as the wife of an unforgettable icon and the mother of the West family lineage.

She will forever be the enigmatic woman who showed incredible strength in her quietest moments – the driving force behind “The Logo.”

Who knows what sacrifices Martha Jane Kane made to allow Jerry’s brilliance to shine? Perhaps her biggest impact was inspiring the inspirational.

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