Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball has cut ties with the co-founder of Big Baller Brand after concerns were raised about $1.5 million from Ball's personal and business accounts that went missing.
Lonzo owns 51 percent of Big Baller Brand, while his father, LaVar, owns 16.4 percent and his mother owns about 16.3 percent. The other 16.3 percent belongs to LaVar’s longtime friend Alan Foster.
In a recent interview with ESPN, Lonzo said Foster "used his access to my business and personal finances to enrich himself. As a result, I have decided to sever all ties with Alan, effective immediately."
Foster has served as the business manager of all of the Ball family's companies, including Big Baller Brand. Foster first became close with the Ball family in 2010 when Lonzo and Foster’s son were in the same seventh grade class. According to LaVar, Foster was the first person to suggest he create an apparel company featuring his three sons, Lonzo, LaMelo and LiAngelo, reported ESPN.
In 2014, Big Baller Brand was created with the Ball family and Foster. However, Lonzo’s financial adviser Humble Lukanga of Life Line Financial Group first raised questions surrounding Foster’s business decisions last October. In an alleged email, Lukanga said Lonzo's personal taxes and Big Baller's taxes were on hold due to an unaccounted $1.5 million.
In the October email sent to Lonzo and his father, the subject line read, "Urgent - $1.5 million Dollars Missing." In the email, Lukanga wrote Foster could not "track down where $1.5 MILLION DOLLARS IN CASH HAS [gone]." Lukanga also wrote that he had repeatedly asked Foster about transactions totaling that amount, but Foster "won't show any invoices or documentation of these expenses. He won't even give me the number to the vendors he says he paid. I'VE NEVER SEEN A COMPANY OPERATE BY WITHDRAWING MILLIONS IN CASH ... Only you and Alan can withdraw cash and I know you didn't take out $1.5 million dollars ... SO WHERE IS THE MONEY???"
Lukanga also attached two itemized reports that allegedly showed cash withdrawals from Big Baller Brand and transactions between BBB and Foster's business, Marathon Consulting Inc.
"Over $1.5 million dollars has disappeared and he has wired over $474,000 to himself through Marathon Consulting (see attached report). So close to $2 million dollars has touched Alan's hands but $1.5 million of it has disappeared in cash and can't be tracked," Lukanga wrote.
While Lonzo expressed his concerns about Foster to his father, it wasn’t until last week that LaVar fully reviewed the warning emails and documents from Lukanga.
"I've always believed in the best in people. Regretfully, I put my complete trust in Alan Foster to manage my son's business affairs," LaVar told ESPN after he reviewed all the documents. "At the end of the day, family comes first, and I support Zo wholeheartedly. Together, we will make this right."
This is not the first time Foster has faced accusations of financial tampering. In 2002, Foster was sentenced to more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering. In that scheme, 70 investors were scammed out of $4 million, according to federal court records obtained by ESPN.
Lonzo said in his statement to ESPN that he has directed his financial advisers and agents to help him sort out this matter and find the $1.5 million.
"This has been a very difficult decision as I had a great deal of love and respect for Alan," Lonzo told ESPN. "But the time has come for me to take responsibility for my own career both on and off the court."
While there are no reports as to whether Lonzo will become an ambassador for another athletic apparel brand, a recent Instagram post of his suggested he may find a home at Nike.
In the post, Ball shared an image with the popular Nike slogan, "It's only a crazy dream until you do it."
Neither Ball nor Nike has made an official announcement.
(Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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