The Renegade Rip

Father of Balls goes too far

Sam L. Jaime

Sam L. Jaime

Sam L. Jaime, Sports Editor

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Growing up, my parents always told me I could be whatever I wanted. I never stopped believing that, often to a fault. Yet as I get older, I’m aware of many of the things I’ll never do. I’ll never go to the moon, never play major-league baseball or dunk in the NBA. I’m at peace with these things; I’m an out of shape, six foot tall dude who’s pushing 30-years old, hoping my writing abilities can carry me further than any aspiration I ever had in sports. I think of the way things have played out, the “good” and “bad” alike, and have always found pride that I made those decisions for myself.

My parents never forced me into things I didn’t like, in terms of sports, but when I signed up for or made a team, they made sure I saw it through to the end. With neither myself or my brother, did my father ever speak for us, or act on our behalf. Maybe that’s why when I see athlete families like the Ball’s, I’m in shock.

In case you’ve missed the drama coming out of UCLA this past college basketball season, much hype has been centered around freshman guard Lonzo Ball. Ball was amazing all season for the Bruins, garnering questions of whether he would enter the NBA draft, or stay in college. For the most part Ball has been silent, but his father LaVar Ball, a former professional football player, has given the public more than enough.

I’ve nothing but love for a father who believes in their kids, and can’t help but smile at the delusion most parents seem to have that their child will be the “greatest” at anything. But as it turns out, LaVar Ball has seemingly planned out the future of UCLA’s Lonzo Ball and his younger son LaMelo’s as well. The elder Ball has essentially demanded that Lonzo be drafted by the Lakers (which I’m not necessarily opposed to), and sign a billion-dollar deal with Nike, going so far as to say if he doesn’t get the type and level of endorsement he deems acceptable, they will create their own brand.

To challenge the system does take guts, but to completely disregard the nuance and behind the scenes nuts and bolts that represent the financial aspect of any sport is dangerous. The reverberation from LaVar Ball’s actions have potentially career-ending effects on Lonzo. In the least it sends a message to his potential NBA teammates that he doesn’t handle his own business, and should make owners think twice before signing him.

One day, basketball will turn its back on Lonzo and LaMelo, as football did on LaVar Ball. While I can only hope that LaVar Ball’s approach to his sons’ futures is born of the best intentions, it’s exponentially more important for them to make their own way, flight or fall, because every athlete is eventually unable to hide behind ability, and the person they are comes to light. Maybe I am way off base, but such appears to be the case with LaVar Ball, who seems insistent on living through the future and talent of his sons.

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Father of Balls goes too far