When a person like me (someone who doesn’t even know which channel ESPN is on) recognizes LaVar Ball as a household name, he must be causing a lot of hoopla. Being new parents of a baby boy, my fiancé, Rob, and I frequently joke and discuss what sports our son will participate in and in retrospect what type of dad/coach Rob will be to our son. After hearing some of LaVar Ball’s courtside antics, outlandish sound bites, and unorthodox sneaker deal propositions for his son Lonzo Ball I can’t help but wonder how much of his genuine, fatherly intent is masked by click-bait headlines.
In the spirit of Father’s Day, Lonzo Ball (currently one of the NBA’s top draft picks), wrote a glowing letter to his dad LaVar Ball. He expressed his heartfelt love and appreciation for LaVar despite his overzealous alter ego as a media driven Sports Dad. Lonzo disclosed the media’s lens captures a very limited and linear side of LaVar and will never know the actual allegiance he has to his children, on and off the court. In his letter, Lonzo thanked his father for his exemplar enthusiasm and ambition because it’s motivated the UCLA superstar to thrive in both academics and basketball.
Now of course this isn’t the first time that fathers in [professional] sports have aggressively trained their sons/daughters to succeed as pro-athletes (i.e. Todd Marinovich, Venus and Serena). However, the outcome of the child/player range greatly with high and low success rates. Undoubtedly, you can be an outstanding athlete with or without a father present, especially in the black community, a demographic that is constantly depicted as fatherless. But personally I found it troubling to think the media was actively trying to sabotage the efforts of an engaged black father. A father that was not only aggressively coaching his son(s) to succeed on the court but equally in academics (as Lonzo Ball has maintained a 4.0 GPA at UCLA).
Of course like I said, I am no expert in the field (pun intended), so I wanted to get the opinions of (Soon to be Sports Dads, Already’ve Been Sports dads, Future Sports Dads/But Not Dads yet) men that were more familiar with LaVar and Lonzo Ball to see if perhaps I am a mere media conspiracy theorist or if LaVar really is taking it too far!
Group Chat Members:
Children: (1) Baby Boy
Children: None yet
Long Island, NY
Children: 2 Adult Daughters, 1 Adult Son
Long Island, NY
Ok so yes, he may not go about things as…. diplomatically as the world would like, but it seems overall LaVar holds his family’s best interests as top priority. Despite not being a star player during his professional ball career, he can now properly exert his energy into bettering his sons, helping them avoid making the mistakes he may or may not have made, and positioning them for top pick draft success and nice sneaker deals. He has dedicated his life to mentoring and training his kids to be the best versions of themselves and helping them achieve the goals THEY have set for themselves, and not just the personal goals he set for them as their father. I think it is worth mentioning that in Lonzo’s personal letter, he said to LaVar at a young age that he wanted to play professional basketball. Not only was his father receptive to this revelation, but LaVar promised to help him make that dream and reality.
I think in Lonzo’s case, all publicity IS good publicity because it has grasped the attention of people outside of basketball’s core fan base (such as me). Now that I’ve dug into Lonzo and LaVar Ball’s story I truly want this kid to succeed and become the star player he has sought to be since he was a child. No matter what I think, the media thinks, his team thinks, yo Mama thinks: LaVar Ball is a great father because his children think he’s a great father and if that is why he balls so hard than so be it! So in lieu of Father’s Day, get that man a trophy for actually being the Greatest Dad of All Time (that could use a tiny bit of PR guidance, LOL)!
*The crowd goes wild!*
(Photo: Lavar Ball via Instagram)