Evelyn Lozada became a household name after kicking off the Basketball Wives franchise in 2010 (and, as loyal fans know, coining the phrase “non-mothaf–kin’ factor”) but she didn’t know what she was getting herself into at the time.
In an exclusive interview, Lozada, 47, talked to Us about initially deciding to share her life with viewers. “I was the first person [creator] Shaunie [Henderson, née O’Neal] called when she came up with the idea of putting this show together. I didn’t know a lot about reality TV, but I owned a shoe store at the time and I was like, ‘oh, this is going to be great for the store,’” she explains. “I didn’t know that stepping into this would kind of just take over.”
After nine seasons, Lozada stepped away from Basketball Wives in 2021. “Reality TV could be a little draining, and I just felt like I needed a minute to recenter myself,” the mom of two — who shares daughter Shaniece, 30, with Jamal Hairston and son Carl Jr., 9, with ex Carl Crawford — explains, noting that during her absence, she focused on her family and businesses.
The TV personality also looked for love on Queens Court — “a totally different experience” than the VH1 series, she says — alongside Tamar Braxton and Nivea. Though she sparked up a romance with contestant Lavon Lewis, she exclusively told Us last month that the pair called off their engagement.
After spending some time away from the Basketball Wives spotlight, Lozada agreed to return for season 11. Of course, jumping back into the lion’s den was daunting: “The first couple of weeks, it hit me [like] a ton of bricks — like, OK, I’m back in this,” she admits.
One of the perks of rejoining the series was reuniting with her former costars Jackie Christie, Brooke Bailey and Jennifer Williams.
Making amends with Williams — a longtime friend who Lozada previously feuded with — was “a big deal” for the Living Lozada alum. “I didn’t want to come onto the show arguing anymore, so we had a great conversation before filming,” she shares, noting viewers will see how the pair address their issues this season. “There was a lot of hurt and pain there [but] I’m happy that our friendship is back.”
Lozada tells Us season 11 turned out to be one for the books. “Every week, I was like, oh my God, wait a minute, what happened? I was so invested because some of the stuff you couldn’t even make up,” she says, teasing a yet-to-be-aired cast trip also proved to be eventful. “It was a lot, but it was good.”
Though Lozada and her fellow Basketball Wives castmates are no strangers to drama, she says there’s nothing but love: “At the end of the day, whether we argue or not, we’re on the same team no matter what.”
After more than a decade on television, Lozada knows which moment from Basketball Wives she would take back: A scene from season 4 when she threw a bottle at Kenya Bell. “I could have really hurt her,” she explains. As for which one she is most proud of? “We did an event for Domestic Violence Foundation this season. When I do anything in connection to my foundation, it’s something that really feeds my soul, and you can learn something from it.”
Despite any drama that has unfolded during her time on the small screen, Lozada is grateful for every moment. “It hasn’t always been positive, but it’s been a good experience,” she adds. “You have to get smart and you have to get the most out of the craziness.”
Basketball Wives airs Mondays on VH1 at 9 p.m.. ET.