Basketball Wives’ Imani Reveals How Lupus Made Her Gain Weight, Talks New Career

Whatever happened to the girl group you were in? There doesn’t seem to be info about it online

That was so weird to me when they put that there but I was in a singing group. Shakir Stewart discovered us. He was friends with me and one of the other girls in the group and at the time he was working with LA Reid, and he was shopping a deal for us. The paperwork was on the table ready to go and at that moment I met Stephen and my life changed. He wasn’t feeling me doing the girl group thing and shut it down. You make choices in life and I chose to be with him and he got traded to Texas a few months later and so I had to leave New York anyway to be with him so my life took a different direction and it never really got off the ground.

Will you pursue a solo career now that you’re on TV?

That was a very brief moment in my life. I worked on Wall Street for nine years so when I hear me being described as a former girl group member, I’m like, I was on Wall Street working in investment houses, what about that? I don’t want to be the next Kim Zolciak [laughs].

What else are you working on?

I’ve been writing a book for about five years. It got put on hold a bunch because the kids were really small and I didn’t know what I wanted to write about. I was doing children’s books, just writing stories and reading the to the babies at night but then I was like I think I want to do an autobiography. My life was really full before Stephen Jackson and since him so it’s probably not the tell all that people want to check but it should be very interesting. I’m also working on a children’s clothing line that would fit the kind of mom that I am because I don’t like to spend a lot of money on kids clothes because they grow out of them but I don’t want them looking crazy, so it will be a moderately priced but high end quality kids clothing line. And then, I’m also partnering up with a fitness program to produce videos. A lot of people are like, “She’s so fat but I’m really not, I’m a size 6.” I was bigger when we first started filming because I let myself go. I was a soccer mom. I didn’t need to be cute at the games because nobody cares what I look like on the field but now that I want to get back out there and date and hang out and do different things for myself, I realized that I have let myself go, so I’ve been working with this trainer and he’s been working me out and getting my body reshaped, so I’m excited about that.

But weight gain is a very real thing.

Yeah, I was just amazed that people were so harsh when it came to something like that. And to be completely honest with you, the producers knew and they asked me if I wanted to incorporate it into the show and at the time I didn’t because I didn’t want to be the woe as me kind of girl but I have a condition called lupus and when I get sick I have to take steroids (prednisone) and that made my face huge. I got really ill last year and I was on a round of medication to stabilize my lupus and it did make me get bigger than I normally am but at the same time, I wasn’t unhealthy or obese or anything like that. I just wasn’t a size 6 anymore.

What can people expect for the rest of the season.

There are a lot of twists and turns and you just never know! Even I’ve been shocked and I’m doing the show! Just showing up for work every day is like really what happened now? It’s not your typical reality show where you can know what’s gonna happen next. You have to watch the show until the end because there are so many things as castmates that we didn’t know.

What did you learn about yourself now that you went through this experience?

Doing the show has been very cathartic for me. Even in our interview sessions where were speaking directly to the cameras about what we’ve done, I’ve learned a lot about myself that maybe I didn’t take time to stop and think about before because it’s just who I am. I think going forward⎯I won’t say I wont judge people as harshly⎯but I do have stern beliefs and I do feel like you don’t have to be everybody’s friend so I think I’ve always been kind of like oh I have my group of friends and I’ll be respectful and cordial to everybody else but I wasn’t very open and warm and welcoming to everybody so that’s one thing I’ve changed. And I’m also very stubborn, all the girls saw it, but I’ve learned over the course of the season that I don’t need to be so stuck in my ways and that I can learn from others, I’ve worked on forgiveness. There’s a lot of things I’ve learned about myself and they’re all positive so I’m not mad. I’m always open for growth in myself and for anybody.