The mother of a teenage girl who sucker-punched an opposing player in the head during a youth basketball game in Orange County, California has reportedly been charged with two misdemeanors.
According to NBC Los Angeles, Latira Shonty Hunt was charged with misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and battery for allegedly encouraging her daughter to assault the girl. In viral video captured of the November 7 incident, the 44-year-old yell “You better hit her for that,” after the players stumbled into each other during the game. A female voice can be heard in the video telling the girl to strike the other player.
Corey Benjamin, a former NBA player and father of the girl who punched the opposing player, has since apologized for his daughter’s actions.
Benjamin was not at the game but saw the video and was saddened by it. An attorney for the victim’s family said they would like to see both the daughter and her mother, who reportedly encouraged her to strike the victim to be held accountable.
“This is not how I raised my daughter,” Benjamin, who played for the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks, told NBC Los Angeles. “To the young lady who was punched by my daughter during a youth basketball game, I sincerely apologize to you, and I am praying for your complete healing both physically and emotionally. To her family, I deeply apologize and regret that this happened to your daughter as she did not deserve this to happen to her. Finally, I apologize to all of those who have been impacted and hurt by the actions of my daughter as well as those of her mother. I am here for your family and wish only the best for you.”
“As a father, I’m shocked and disappointed at my daughter’s behavior as this is not a reflection of the values and standards that my family holds,” he added. “Nor does it exemplify the values, character, and spirit of sportsmanship that the game of basketball requires. My daughter made a mistake. One that she will need to make right. I am committed to getting my daughter any help she may need and support her in taking accountability for her conduct.”
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The 15-year-old victim’s mother said her daughter was disoriented from a concussion following the strike and has filed a police report.
The incident happened in the final game of a fall tournament. Video shows a player from the opposing Dream Academy shooting a shot and missing, but then shortly after the player takes a swing at the victim. The game subsequently ended.
Hunt faces up to a year in jail if convicted. It was unclear when she would appear in court.
“It is unconscionable that a parent would encourage her child to engage in violence during a sporting event,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement, according to NBC Los Angeles. “Youth sports are invaluable in teaching our children discipline, teamwork, and sportsmanship. But a win at all costs mentality that is completely devoid of fair play, respect, and civility is disgusting. We as parents have the fundamental responsibility to raise our children to be good human beings who treat others with kindness and humanity.”