Trump Mocked For Saying UCLA Players Were ‘in Jail’
LaVar Ball was a bench player on Washington State’s basketball team in the 1990s, played football briefly in the now-defunct World League of American Football and also had a few stints on the practice squads of NFL teams.
The 49-year-old became a local celebrity in Southern California when his oldest son, Lonzo, became a highly awarded high-school basketball player.
And he became nationally known during Lonzo impressive freshman season at UCLA in 2016-17.
LaVar courted controversy by persuading Lonzo to sport his clothing line – Big Baller Brand – on the court, even though he was a collegiate player at the time and so was forbidden from making endorsements.
Ball argued that Lonzo was just wearing the clothing – not specifically telling people to buy it.
After Lonzo declared for the NBA Draft in March, LaVar tried and failed to secure an endorsement for him with Adidas, Under Armour, and Nike throughout the spring of 2017.
As a solution, he decided to expand Big Baller’s range from hats and T-shirts into sneakers.
Instead of signing with a major shoe company, Lonzo and LaVar decided they would sell their own sneaker, the ZO2, for a hefty $495.
LaVar didn’t take kindly to complaints over the shoes’ price, tweeting: ‘If you can’t afford the ZO2’S, you’re NOT a BIG BALLER!’
Since hitting the spotlight, LaVar has become known for his outlandish statements.
In March, he referenced his athletic background when he told USA Today that he could have taken Michael Jordan.
‘Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one,’ he said. ‘I would just back [Jordan] in and lift him off the ground and call a foul every time he fouls me when I do a jump hook to the right or the left.
‘He cannot stop me one-on-one. He better make every shot ’cause he can’t go around me. He’s not fast enough. And he can only make so many shots outside before I make every bucket under the rim.’
Later that month, LaVar was accused of racism after blaming UCLA’s Sweet 16 loss to Kentucky on the Bruins’ white players.
‘Realistically you can’t win no championship with three white guys because the foot speed is too slow,’ he told the Los Angeles Daily News.
Ball was almost certainly referring to UCLA starters TJ Leaf, Thomas Welsh and Bryce Alford, the latter of whom is the son of Bruins coach Steve Alford.
In May he faced accusations of sexism after an interview on Fox Sports in which he said that the Big Baller Brand was not meant for women.
When host Kristine Leahy questioned him further, LaVar told her to ‘stay in your lane.’
While positioning his body away from Leahy, LaVar went on to say ‘I don’t look over there because I’m scared of her; I’m thinking assault right now.’
Lonzo Ball: The breakout star
Lonzo is the eldest of the Ball brothers at 20, and the one who made his father famous.
He propelled Chino Hills High School to an undefeated record and a national championship.
Along the way, he pocketed a litany of awards including Mr Basketball USA, an honor previously won by LeBron James.
Lonzo’s star rose even higher with a successful freshman campaign at UCLA that positioned him as one of the top NBA prospects in the country.
That led the Los Angeles Lakers to take the six-foot-six-inch point guard with the second pick of the 2017 NBA Draft.
With Lonzo’s success, his father’s apparel company, Big Baller Brand, began garnering more attention.
That led to scrutiny from the NCAA, which prohibits collegiate players from making endorsements.
Unfazed, Lonzo frequently wore socks with the brand’s ‘BBB’ logo emblazoned across the top, while LaVar promoted the Big Baller Brand to any media outlet that would speak with him.
‘It’s going to start a ripple effect,’ LaVar Ball told The Los Angeles Times in March.
‘They’re going to have to wake up. I’m the perfect person to do this. Lonzo is so good and he can’t say, “OK, go get your Big Baller merch.”
‘He can’t say none of that. OK, he doesn’t have to say none of that. He can just wear it.’
Lonzo has had an up-and-down rookie season so far.
On November 11, he broke LeBron James’ record by becoming the youngest player to record a triple-double, doing so at 20 years and 15 days old – beating James by five days.
But while he is averaging an impressive 6.9 assists a game, Lonzo bizarre shooting form has left him with an unimpressive 30.8 per cent mark from the field.
LaVar Ball has made headlines by publicly criticizing Lonzo’s coach, Luke Walton, and the way the Lakers staff has handled his son.
LiAngelo Ball: The troublemaker
LiAngelo Ball, 18, is the middle of the three brothers and arguably the least notable of the three for his work on the court.
He was not considered a top recruit at Chino Hills, but was still offered a scholarship to UCLA.
ESPN has given him three stars out of five on its basketball recruiting page, criticizing his lack of lateral quickness and overall defense.
However, the scouting report did credit LiAngelo with being a good shooter with an improving post game.
Sadly, it’s LiAngelo’s antics in China that have raised his profile, rather than his skills in the game.
He and the rest of the UCLA Bruins were in the city of Hangzhou on November 8 ahead of a November 10 game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai, which is around a two-hours high-speed train ride away.
While in Hangzhou, he, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were accused of trying to steal Louis Vuitton sunglasses and were detained at their hotel.
They were suspended and remained in their hotel while The Bruins went on to win the game.
LiAngelo and the others returned to the US on November 14, after an intervention by visiting President Donald Trump.
UCLA has suspended the trio indefinitely and coach Steve Alford said all three would have to ‘earn their way back’ onto the court.
LaMelo Ball: The prodigy
At 16, LaMelo is the youngest of the Ball brothers – but he may possibly be the most talented of the three.
The high-school-junior-age player is primarily known for scoring 92 points in a single game for Chino Hills.
However, after the school refused to accede to LaVar’s demand to add four more players, the basketball dad pulled him out of the school in September.
LaVar told the Los Angeles Times that he decided to home-school LaMelo in order to make the young point guard ‘the best basketball player ever.’
Despite leaving Chino Hills, LaMelo still plans to attend UCLA.
However his eligibility may be affected by the announcement that Big Baller Brand is to produce LaMelo signature shoe – the MB1. It will cost $395.