Kimora Lee Simmons welcomed her daughter in 2000 with ex-husband Russell Simmons
Ming Lee, 23, is following in her mom’s footsteps and pursuing a career in modeling and fashion. She grew up around Kimora's fashion empire, Baby Phat, and became even more involved after the model-turned-businesswoman bought back the brand and its entities in 2019 after first selling them in 2010.
"It's about creating that legacy," Kimora previously told PEOPLE. "I want [them] to understand the legacy of the business that was created for [them]. It's been a 20 year plus ride and I want them to understand that."
Ming Lee works both behind the scenes and in front of the camera for her famous mom’s company. She started starring in campaigns for the Baby Phat and Forever 21 collections in 2019 while simultaneously helping to revitalize the brand and expand its reach into cosmetics in 2020.
“It’s going to sound cliche, but my mom really does keep me grounded,” she told Hypebae Beauty in June 2023. “She’s always hammered the value of a dollar into all of us and she’s done an amazing job of supporting us while also doing her best to make us aware of our privilege.”
Here is everything to know about Kimora Lee Simmons’ daughter, Ming Lee, including her passion for fashion and her sweet bond with her mom.
She was born on Jan. 21, 2000
Kimora and her ex-husband Russell Simmons welcomed their firstborn on Jan. 21, 2000, approximately two years after tying the knot in the Caribbean. The couple later welcomed a second daughter, Aoki Lee, on Aug. 16. 2002.
She is a model
As soon as Ming Lee was able to walk, her feet hit the catwalk.
“I grew up on the runway, walking with my mom and sister at the end of every Baby Phat show during fashion week in New York,” she told W Magazine in 2017. “I’ve been in ads with my mom and sister since I was 2 years old. I’m only now realizing how uncommon that is and I’m deeply appreciative of those experiences.”
She attended NYU
Ming Lee studied fashion at New York University and graduated in June 2023.
While she called her college experience “amazing” in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, she also recalled the toll the pandemic took.
"Literally, our whole generation had a really hard time, 'cause it was COVID and everything got shut down and everything moved online," she said. "I think it just feels really good to be done."
Kimora echoed the sentiment, adding, “It was very, very tough. So to everybody who was in school over these past few years, congratulations! It's not easy."
She plans to continue working in the fashion industry
Ming Lee – who has played an integral role in her mom’s clothing empire – plans to continue working at Baby Phat while carving out her long-term goals.
“I studied fashion in school, and I really, really love working with my mom, so I’m gonna start there,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “Hopefully, in the future, [I will be doing] something with my own fashion brand and just kind of staying around the fashion [world] because that’s what makes me really happy."
She knows the power her last name has in the industry but is determined to make a name for herself based on her own merit. “I know that I need to work hard and prove myself to be able to stand on my own,” she previously told Hypebae Beauty.
She finds inspiration in traveling
Ming Lee was exposed to traveling from a young age and continues to make it a priority.
“My sister and I grew up surrounded by markers of all corners of our identity. My mom was active about immersing us in culture and appreciation for our heritage whether it was travel, exposure to art and culture,” she told Hypebae Beauty.
The 23-year-old’s Instagram is loaded with snapshots from her recent travels, which include trips to Europe, Japan – where she spent part of the summer after graduating college – tropical destinations and more.
Tyra Banks is her godmother
Kimora and Tyra Banks have known each other for decades. The two first met while modeling and even shared an apartment in Paris as teenagers as their careers were taking off.
The supermodels remained friends into adulthood, with the former America’s Next Top Model host serving as Kimora's maid of honor at her 1998 wedding to Simmons.
Banks was also named Ming Lee’s godmother and has been photographed with her over the years at events, including Kimora's fashion shows.
She and her mom have a close relationship
Ming Lee and her mom share a tight-knit bond. The mother-daughter duo are supportive of each other personally and professionally, with Ming Lee telling W Magazine, “Where she’s at in life, I want to be there at some point in the future.”
The two also have each other’s backs when it comes to drama. When Ming Lee shared a post wishing her mom a happy Father’s Day in 2023, her father took issue with the post, writing a cryptic message on his Instagram stories the following day, taking a jab at his ex-wife.
Kimora was quick to defend her daughter in a now-deleted series of posts, writing, “Leave my kids alone. This narrative of attacking the only caregiver, the only parent in the home with the kids, the mom, AND the kids for one's own shortcomings and embarrassments is dead. Dead. Dead."
She twins with her mom
Ming Lee and Kimora not only look alike, but they also dress alike. The pair have been spotted coordinating outfits at events over the years, including the 2022 amfAR Gala and Dwyane Wade's Hall of Fame Induction celebration in August 2023.
With similar tastes in style, Ming Lee told W Magazine that she’s been known to raid her mom’s closet. “I definitely steal all of her vintage pieces from 10 years ago … And the new ones too,” she said.
As for the best piece of fashion advice her mom’s given her: “Don’t be too naked,” she told PEOPLE with a laugh in 2019 while on the red carpet for The Daily Front Row Fashion Media Awards.
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