When Lonzo ball stepped onto the UCLA campus last fall as a highly touted recruit for the Bruins, there were many questions being asked about whether or not he would live up to the hype and bring the program back to national prominence. Fast forward to March Madness and we find Lonzo not only living up to the hype but far exceeding it, all while leading his team to a 31-5 record, the sweet sixteen, and ultimately leading to the Los Angeles Lakers taking him with the #2 pick in the 2017 NBA draft. While he was proving himself on the court and becoming a rising star, his father Lavar Ball’s star was also ascending for more controversial reasons. Reasons which have all led people to ask the question; Is Lavar Ball a good father?
I’ll be honest when I first started seeing Lavar in the news saying he could beat Michael Jordan in a 1 on 1 basketball game or calling out Charles Barkley, I saw it as another attempt of a parent trying to cash in on the celebrity of their child, a sentiment echoed from many in the sports world but after Lavar announced the plans to release his sons first signature shoe through his Big Baller Brand and the price point at which they were to be sold created such a firestorm, my attitude changed a little bit.
Day after day I would hear analysts on major sports networks covering all news Lavar Ball calling into question whether or not all of his antics were hurting Lonzo and then eventually that conversation turned towards whether or not he was a good father in general, a question that I found to be very troubling given the stereotypes of African American males and fatherhood. Criticize the man’s brash personality and how he trolls the media, but to use that as a basis for questioning his parenting skills is unfair considering how he has broken many stereotypes as a black man.
In general, being a father is a massive responsibility, and even more so as a black father. There is an added level of responsibility to teach certain values that give your children a leg up and the African American perspective of the world. Lavar Ball has certainly done that. Lavar met his wife Tina while he was playing basketball in college where she was also student, they soon married and are still together to this day.
Coupled with a stable marriage, they also purchased a home in the affluent Chino Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles where they raised their three sons and where Lavar has played a big role as mentor to other young men in the community. By most measures people would say that he has done his job by staying in his kids’ lives, by having a stable marriage and giving them a roof over their head; but for some, issues with personality and how he handles himself within the media dominate the conversation instead of the good that he has done for him and his family.
Lavar Ball certainly is not the first high profile sports dad to be criticized for how he handles his children’s talent, but none of them have received more coverage than him warranted or not. Lavar does bring a lot of heat on himself but at the end of the day he is there for his family, focusing on their long term financial stability beyond basketball by starting his own business. Without him and his wife, Lonzo and his two brothers would certainly not be in the positions they are in today with such bright futures.
The fact is that many of the positive aspects of what Lavar represents as a black man in America are often overlooked because he does not play by the rules of how critics believe a dad of talented children should act. Let’s face it, he is also a black man who is very bold about trying to compete with major athletic brands and not letting them profit off his sons. That alone takes vision and major guts to do in a world still filled with prejudices. Yes, he is different but it seems that most in the media are only interested in mocking him and praying for his failure. So I ask, is the criticism Lavar Ball receives because he is doing a poor job of handling the success of his kids, or because the sports world is doing a poor job of handling a black father who is taking a very active role in the success of his children?