One year ago, LaVar Ball was just a regular father who groomed his three sons to excel on the basketball court.
Today, he’s consistently dominating national news. It’s impossible to avoid him — whether he’s sharing outrageous opinions about his son, Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, or taking his two other sons LaMelo and LiAngelo out of their respective schools.
He even triggered a fight with Donald Trump after refusing to thank the president for helping to free his son, LiAngelo, and two other UCLA basketball players from the custody of Chinese law enforcement.
Ball and Trump are eerily similar. Both use their platforms to say what they want to say, when they want to say it and don’t care about the backlash or repercussions that follow. It’s hard to ignore the financial aspect as well. Obviously Ball is not on the level of Trump, but he’s doing well enough to buy his sons a Lamborghini, Ferrari and Rolls Royce — and that’s before Lonzo Ball received any money from his rookie NBA contract.
Not to mention, Ball, the CEO of Big Baller Brand, is a marketing genius. He landed guest appearances on all major sports networks, culminating in late-night interviews on CNN. The appearances were worth $13.2 million of free digital and TV ads for his company, all because he refused to say thank you to Trump.
They’re both stubborn to the bone — your opinion will have absolutely no effect on their mindsets.
Face it. Ball is a black, more lovable Donald Trump.
I use “more lovable” not to say Ball should be beloved by everyone, but because it’s nearly impossible to respect Trump as a person after all his antics in the past few years. Whether you agree or disagree with his political values, his human values are flawed.
Yes, Ball fits the stereotype of a loud-mouthed, annoying black parent. But I can’t hate a black man that works so his children can excel in what they love. The general perception of black fathers in the U.S. is that they’re always absent. Removing race from the conversation, he still has lots of qualities that go unnoticed.
He’s rehabbing his wife — who suffered a stroke earlier this year — on his own, and he gives back to those in need in his community. I can’t explain his reasoning behind pulling his two younger sons from high school and UCLA, but he’s gotten them this far. He has a plan.
Like Trump, Ball makes people constantly wonder whether his public comments are a smaller part of some grand scheme, or just him being an idiot. The media usually goes with the latter — that’s why Ball has a mic in front of him in the first place.
So when both ultimately butted heads, it was as if one was talking to the other in the mirror. Neither would concede their points, resulting in a situation with no solution and no settlement. It did seem like Ball came out as the winner of the “battle,” receiving major national publicity.
Ball isn’t experiencing the ol’ 15 minutes of fame. He’s going to be in your news alert as long as his son is the starting point guard of one of the most renowned franchises in sports. His youngest son, LaMelo, will likely reach the NBA as well.
The legend of LaVar is just beginning. Buckle in.
Zion Olojede, ’18, is the sports editor for The Brown and White. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.