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Who Is the Real Owner of the Boston Celtics? All About the Man Who Helped Inspire Extended Family
Donald Faison's Extended Family character, Trey, is based on Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, but how much of Grousbeck's real life is portrayed in the new NBC sitcom?
Donald Faison stars in NBC’s new comedy Extended Family as Trey Taylor, the owner of the Boston Celtics. And it turns out, his character is based on the real-life owner of the Boston Celtics, Wycliffe “Wyc” Grousbeck.
“The Celtics are playing like crap,” Trey said during the series pilot. “And if we don’t fix it, we’re gonna be the red-headed stepchild of the NBA. But redder and steppier than the reddest, headiest stepchild ever, know what I’m saying?”
Trey received some PR assistance after that comment, and that’s how he met and began dating Julia, played by Abigail Spencer, leading to the co-parenting shenanigans that make up each episode of Extended Family.
But how much influence does Grousbeck’s actual life play into the characters of Trey and Julia? Here’s everything to know about the real owner of the Boston Celtics.
Who is the real owner of the Boston Celtics?
Wyc Grousbeck grew up in Weston, a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, according to ESPN. His father, Irving, took him and his siblings to many Celtics and Red Sox games when he was a child, and that helped to foster his love for the teams.
Irving co-founded Continental Cablevision Inc. in 1963, and he and his partner, Amos Hostetter, ultimately sold it for $11.5 billion, ESPN reported.
Wyc, meanwhile, earned a degree in history from Princeton University, followed by a law degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Stanford. He eventually began working at Highland Capital Partners, a venture firm near Boston, in the mid-90s, according to ESPN, where he became the managing partner of a company managing $1.8 billion in funds.
By 2002, he and his father were interested in buying the Boston Celtics, after looking into buying both the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants. By December of that year, Wyc and Irving became the new owners of the Celtics, ESPN reported.
How did Wyc Grousbeck's son influence the family's move to Boston?
Grousbeck was married to his now ex-wife, Corinne, when he became part owner of the Celtics. The two met while attending the University of Michigan, and had a daughter, Kelsey, in 1990 while living in California, according to Heavy. The couple also had a son, Campbell, in 1992.
“Everything was going to just sort of fall into place,” Corinne said to ESPN. “And we were going to live in California and have this happily-ever-after kind of life.”
But Campbell was born with a rare genetic eye disease called Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA). While researching what they could do to help their son, Corinne looked into the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts — which was famous for educating Helen Keller, ESPN reported. The family decided to move to the Boston area in 1995.
“Wyc didn’t have a job when we came out here, and we had no idea where to live,” Corinne said in an ESPN interview. “We took a huge risk uprooting the family to come 3,000 miles across the country.”
Flash forward to 2002, and Wyc and his father made the decision to buy the Celtics.
Since the move nearly 30 years ago, the family has been heavily involved in fundraising and charity to help those who suffer from eye diseases. In 2006, Wyc and Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee, whose daughter also suffers from LCA, created Project 3000 to try and identify the genetic cause of the disease and find a cure, ESPN said.
Campbell, although he can’t see the game, has still found a way to love basketball.
"He can feel the vibrations of the players as they're running," Corinne told ESPN. "I think he knows when they're coming sooner than we do. It's really amazing what he can take in from just listening to the ball. He can hear it go in. He'll say, 'Oh, that was a basket.'"
Wyc and Corinne Grousbeck announced their divorce in October 2014, after a 28-year marriage, the Boston Globe reported.
Wyc Grousbeck's Marriage to Emilia Fazzalari and How It Inspired Extended Family
After his divorce, Wyc Grousbeck began dating Emilia Fazzalari, the real-life inspiration for Julia in Extended Family. Fazzalari has two children with her ex-husband, George Geyer, who inspired the character of Jim, played by Jon Cryer.
Grousbeck and Fazzalari were engaged by December 2016, according to the Boston Herald, and although they planned a wedding for April 2017, they decided to elope at the Bellagio Casino Chapel in Las Vegas in January 2017. The couple was working on Cincoro Tequila business together when they decided to head to Sin City.
“The wedding plans were getting out of hand,” Fazzalari told Haute Living.
Fazzalari is now the CEO of Cincoro, which launched across the U.S. in the fall of 2019. Unlike her Extended Family counterpart who works in public relations, Fazzalari received a Bachelor of Arts with a degree in economics from the University of Michigan, according to Heavy. She began working in financial services at Moody’s Investors Service in 1987, and then worked for Bloomberg L.P.
In December 2021, Fazzalari told Gotham Magazine how important holiday gatherings are in her blended family with Grousbeck and his children.
“My son is off at college now, and my daughter isn’t far behind,” Fazzalari said in the interview. “The perfect holiday soiree for us is really when the house is full of our kids, their cousins, and their friends who might stop by for dinner or just to visit.”
Grousbeck felt like his complicated family life could be the premise for a television sitcom, and pitched the idea to his friend Tom Werner, one of the Boston Red Sox owners, who’s also behind TV hits like The Cosby Show, and Roseanne. Grousbeck, Fazzalari, and Geyer are all executive producers of Extended Family, and were involved in the casting, set design, costumes and scripts, according to the Associated Press.
Grousbeck used his influence as owner of the Celtics to add some authenticity to the show as well. Extended Family uses the Celtics name and other actual NBA intellectual property, including an external shot of TD Garden where the team plays as well as a luxury suite, both shown in the pilot of the show.
“The show wasn’t going to be the same if it was the Boston Bluebirds,” Grousbeck said to the AP. “The NBA said: ‘Go for it.’”
The pilot also happened to be shot during the 2022 NBA finals, featuring the Celtics versus the Golden State Warriors, which Grousbeck and Fazzalari attended.
"It was amazing for the three of us to sit there and look at three people playing versions of us, loose versions of us,” Grousbeck said to the AP. “It’s like you’ve suddenly gone into the television. I mean, it’s just a crazy feeling.”
Watch new episodes of Extended Family on Tuesdays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC, and the next day on Peacock.