LaVar Ball and his trio of sons have owned plenty of real estate in the world of basketball buzz in the last 2-plus years.
His oldest, Lonzo, was a star on a UCLA team that was ranked as high as No. 2 in 2016-17 before falling to Kentucky in the Sweet 16, and was drafted second overall in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. His middle son, LiAngelo, was part of a Chino Hills High School (Calif.) team that went 30-3 before falling to Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) and eventual state champion Bishop Montgomery, which featured Oregon State commit Ethan Thompson. LiAngelo is following in his brother’s footsteps to UCLA, where he’ll suit up this fall.
And then, there’s the youngest of the Ball boys: LaMelo.
LaMelo is a 16-year-old student-athlete at Chino Hills High School who averaged 26.7 points per game as a sophomore last season ( per MaxPreps’ statistics), and is widely expected to follow his brothers to UCLA in 2019. LaMelo was part of the family’s appearance on WWE’s Monday Night Raw , and also released his first signature basketball shoe under the family’s Big Baller Brand, which also manufactures Lonzo’s ZO2 shoe.
In a world of murky compliance boundaries, questions of eligibility immediately arose from the shoe’s announcement. Before we could even reach the season, LaVar took care of that, announcing he was pulling LaMelo out of Chino Hills to home school his son and “make him the best basketball player ever,” per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
LaVar also blamed the arrival of a new coach — Chino Hills’ third in three seasons, after Steve Baik left for Fairfax High School before the 2016-17 season, and Stephan Gilling was fired in late April after going public with his repeated issues with LaVar — for his pulling LaMelo out of school.
Enter USA Today’s Nancy Armour, who has had enough of the Ball family antics, calling LaVar “the worst sports parent ever.”
Armour compared LaVar to Marv Marinovich, the father of former USC and NFL quarterback Todd Marinovich, who was raised specifically to be an NFL quarterback and washed out of the league after two seasons due to drug abuse.
“Until now, Ball has been a caricature with his outlandish claims and delusional view of his and his sons’ talents, the basketball equivalent of a Kardashian. With his announcement Monday that he is pulling youngest son LaMelo out of high school so he can make him “the best basketball player ever,” Ball crossed into troubling territory.
“These are children he’s raising, not commodities, and the ramifications are huge when a parent forgets there’s a difference.”
Armour continues by elaborating on the importance of high school in the development of a young man — especially one with such a bright spotlight already on him.
“Whether he and his son recognize it, pulling him out of school robs LaMelo of an important piece of his adolescence. LaMelo told ESPN that leaving school won’t matter because he’ll see his buddies when they come to his house to train. But you don’t spend your life surrounded by your buddies, and school is when you start learning how to navigate relationships with those who aren’t.
“And while it’s true that plenty of elite athletes are home schooled, the “Everybody else is doing it!” argument doesn’t mean it’s always right.
“Especially not with the reasons Ball is giving.”
The reasons Ball gives surround the new coach, Dennis Latimore, who according to LaVar’s accounts sounds like he’s not coaching at Chino Hills to be part of the Ball circus. With just one Ball remaining at the school, perhaps Latimore saw it fit to establish his culture, instead of one that coddles a talented group of teenagers and a bombastic, reportedly overbearing parent.
It doesn’t take much to see that there are plenty of issues for a program that wins tons of games and consistently contends for sectional and state titles, yet cycles through coaches with each turn of a calendar year. LaMelo is a talented player, and how this shakes out for him in the long run is anyone’s guess. It’s mostly unprecedented, considering we’ve yet to learn if LaMelo will suit up for any Southern California team this season.
Armour could very well be seeing the future before LaVar or anyone else has decided to fix it. Perhaps then, in an unfortunate reversal of the Melo Ball 1 advertisement, life won’t be so sweet. For the kid’s sake, we hope that doesn’t end up being the case.
The post USA TODAY columnist calls LaVar Ball ‘worst sports parent ever’ appeared first on Diehards.
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