Isaiah Hartenstein Confirms He's Part Black: ‘I’m Bright Skin, I’m Above Light Skin’

The New York Knicks center touched on his race during a recent appearance on 'The Roommates Show.'

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Isaiah Hartenstein is setting the record straight about his racial identity.

The NBA center addressed the topic during a recent appearance on The Roommates Show, a popular podcast series hosted by his New York Knicks teammates Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart. 

“Let’s just jump right into it: Are you Black?” Brunson asked Hartenstein at the top of the sit-down. 

“I really wanted to cover that,” Hart interjected. "I’m actually happy about this. Explain your Blackness—or level of Blackness.”

It’s a question that Hartenstein has tackled countless times before, as many are surprised to learn that the 7-foot-tall German-raised basketball player is mixed-race. The fair-skinned athlete confirmed his mom, Theresa, is a white American from Oregon, while his German-born dad, Florian Hartenstein, is half Black and half white.

“You know it’s, like, light skin? I’m bright skin. I’m above light-skinned,” he said with a laugh. “My dad is Black.”

Hart admitted he was shocked to learn that Hartenstein was mixed-race and described the revelation as “crazy.” Hartenstein said the reaction was understandable, as his complexion leads many to believe he’s full white. He compared the situation to a Key & Peele skit of a Barack Obama meet-and-greet. The skit shows the former president (portrayed by Jordan Peele) giving cordial handshakes to white audience members before giving hugs and warm backslaps to Black audience members. 

“Y’all know Key & Peele, the show? So you know when Barack Obama is going in, the white man handshake is different…” Hartenstein said about the 2014 skit. “When they find out I’m Black, the handshake changes, the whole vibe changes… My dad is probably the same skin tone as y’all but my mom’s genes kind of took over.”

He continued: “I don’t know what I claim. I don’t know if I claim Black, white, German, American—I’m just kind of everything.”

You can check out the full podcast episode above.

Hartenstein’s dad—a German basketball coach and University of Oregon alum—addressed his son’s race in a 2021 interview with AndScape. ​​​​​​​

“Sometimes they say we are not related because they say I look blacker than he does, but when they look closer …,” Florian Hartenstein said. “It’s funny when you see our kid pictures, pulling up my picture and his picture as a kid, we look alike and he basically was a lighter version of me. Some people question the situation, but once they get to know us they see that we are family.”

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