“Ball Till They Fall”

Randall Williams | Staff Writer

Football. Basketball. Baseball. And even volleyball. A lot of America’s entertainment comes from sports that end with that word, ball. However, recently the talk has not been about a sport involving a ball, but a family with the word as their last name. The Ball family has been stirring up the basketball world for the last five or six months. They are comprised of father Lavar, mother Tina, and children Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo.

Lonzo, the oldest of the children, is UCLA’s star freshman point guard and one of college’s best players. He averages a balanced 14 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 7.6 assists a game. Following UCLA’s loss to Kentucky in the Elite Eight of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, Ball declared for the NBA Draft where he is projected to be a top-3 pick.

Then comes LiAngelo, who is a high school senior and is ranked the number 223 player in the nation by 247Sports. You may have heard of him dropping 72 points earlier in his last season. The third son of Lavar, LaMelo, is by far the most flamboyant of the three. He has the hair of Odell Beckham Jr. and a jump shot that reminds us of the Stephen Curry. How exactly did this Ball family member make the news? Well, you know, just casually pulling up from half court to begin a game and hitting nothing but net or, better yet, topping his brother by scoring 92 on February 7.

The three sons look to have an extremely bright future ahead of them, as they are all committed to play for UCLA but they aren’t the subject of discussion. Everyone is talking about someone else: their father. The co-head of Big Baller Brand has become infamous for his comments like “I’ve been coaching them all their lives. I’ve instilled something in them that you can’t take out. Like, ‘No shot is a bad shot.’” He’s also told the media multiple times that“He’s gonna be better than Steph Curry in the NBA.”

But, how could anyone possibly hate? Lamelo made a very good point tweeting on March 15,  “Some kids don’t even have fathers and y’all hating on my father because he believes his kids can do anything.” What’s crazy about this is, the 15 year old phenom is absolutely right.

According to “fathers.com,” a 2012 study shows that a staggering “57.6 percent of black children are living absent of their biological fathers.” Now I ask this question, would you rather have an outspoken father who has been by your side supporting you your entire life? Or no father present at all?

The obvious answer is having that unconditional love and care from your dad. Lavar has done an outstanding job as a parent. He’s been married to his wife for a number of years now and remained a consistent figure of admiration in the eyes of his heirs.

On the other side of things, Lavar seems to have more of the family spotlight on himself rather than his children. He’s even gone so far to say on March 13 that “back in [his] heyday, [he] would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one.” The claim has many people shocked and wondering what exactly does that have to do with his sons. Well, the answer is clear, nothing.

With the exception of his last comment, Lavar has directed all of the recent shine to his children, but this has the pressure for the Ball brothers to succeed rising exponentially. Especially with him saying “UCLA is going to win the national championship … guarantee it” like he did on Thanksgiving 2016. This gets a little awkward considering that the Bruins were eliminated by Kentucky on March 24. Not only did they lose, they were beat by a respectable margin of 11 and their freshman star was outplayed.

With Lavar promising a win, and the team doing the exact opposite, it seems as if he talked louder than Lonzo and his comrades walked. However, the loss is now in the past, and in the grand scheme of things it may not even matter. All of the Ball brothers will likely be “one and dones,” meaning they will play their freshman year and, once it concludes, immediately declare for the NBA draft. While the transition from college to NBA is challenging, we’ve seen young college players become superstars after one and dones such as John Wall, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving. What these players didn’t have is a loud-mouthed dad who speaks so highly of his children.

Too many questions remain for the family of the future. Is Lavar Ball just a father supporting his children? A pressuring, providing parent? Or is he simply just a master marketer? Only time will tell. For now, we all await to see if Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo will ball or fall.

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