LaVar Ball recently orchestrated a deal for his two youngest sons to play overseas. LiAngelo and LaMelo, 18 and 16 respectively, both signed deals to play basketball in Lithuania. This comes after LiAngelo’s indefinite suspension and withdrawal from UCLA. Many people have voiced their opinions on the Ball family, but this latest decision begs the question: Is this a mistake?
LaVar Ball: Jack of All Trades
The Ball patriarch made headlines when he announced that he was taking LaMelo out of high school. After citing frustration with his son’s coaches and school officials, he decided it was time to take over. Apparently, Chino Hills became full of distractions that Melo didn’t need to put up with. On top of that, the school hired a new basketball coach that ended up ruffling LaVar’s feathers a bit. He vowed that Melo would be homeschooled and trained by him personally, promising us his youngest would be ready for UCLA in two years. Teacher, trainer, coach— does that leave any time for being a parent?
In early November, UCLA and Georgia Tech were in China for an exhibition game. LiAngelo and two of his former UCLA teammates became embroiled in a shoplifting incident. They thought it would be ‘cool’ to take some things from a Louis Vuitton store without paying. Fortunately, they were able to escape the situation after serving 20 days of ‘house arrest’ at the hotel. LaVar minimized his son’s actions from the beginning, saying the situation wasn’t a big deal. He even went as far as to criticize UCLA for the indefinite suspension placed on Gelo. Inevitably, he pulled another child out of school and vowed to have him ready for the NBA.
This week, Melo and Gelo signed their first pro-contract to play in Lithuania. There has been tons of backlash, most notably from former NBA star Charles Barkley. He believes LaVar is exploiting his kids and making everything about the Big Baller Brand. Barkley stated, “I just feel sadness for those kids because they’re gonna do whatever he tells them to do.” On ESPN’s The Jump, Rachel Nichol’s and her guests weighed in on the development factor. Neither of these kids have enough experience to handle this type of situation. In addition, no one believes this move is going to benefit the brother’s development as ball players. In the past, players that do decide to play overseas usually have four years of college under their belt and maybe nth amount of years in the NBA. What can we expect from a former high school student and a college freshman?
Hoping for the Best
I’m not a parent, so I will never judge how someone raises their children. But I will voice a concern for those boys, especially for Melo. At 16 years old, he is in no way ready to live the life of a professional ball player in Lithuania. His brother will be with him but… I don’t know. I’m not so ready to trust someone who steals from foreign countries. Gelo needs to have better judgement than that if he’s going to be entrusted to look after Melo. All in all, I really hope this doesn’t end up being a bust like most people believe. The Ball brothers deserve to have the opportunity play the game they love, despite their father’s disagreeable actions.
Shout out to Tina Ball. I know the thought of her babies playing overseas is a stressful one. Stay strong!