To say Lonzo Ball and LaVar Ball are presenting a unique scenario to NBA teams considering drafting the dynamic UCLA Bruin is an understatement. It’s hard to find anything quite like the father-son duo in the past, with LaVar’s words becoming so loud in the last several months he’s overshadowed his own son’s talent at times.
That’s since calmed down, with the NBA Draft coming into focus for both the Ball family and franchise’s around the league. The Los Angeles Lakers, meanwhile, have maintained that they have no issue with LaVar and consider him nothing more than an incredibly supportive parent.
Jeanie Buss, Magic Johnson and even Larry Nance, Jr. have dropped soundbites along those lines in the last month, and the latest from Lonzo seems to fill in some of the details that point to LaVar being just that
Lonzo wrote a letter thanking LaVar for guiding him to this point in his life on The Players’ Tribune, something he wanted to do for his dad as part of a Father’s Day gift of sorts. Sure, The Players’ Tribune very obviously edits and helps pull these things together, but there’s also truth in what they publish.
And, based on what Lonzo shared with everyone about LaVar, the truth continues tobe that his father is an incredibly supportive parent who has helped his son achieve so much as a basketball player.
Here’s how Lonzo opened it, which sets the tone for much of the open letter (via The Players’ Tribune):
Over the past few months, you’ve talked a lot about me — maybe more than some people cared for. So with Father’s Day coming up I thought that writing this would be a good way for me to actually say a few things about you.
The real you — not the person everyone has seen on TV. Just, my dad.
One of the things I admire most about you is that you don’t really care what other people think. People can have whatever opinions they want about who you are as a person, but they’ll never have all the facts. They’ll never know you like I do.
They weren’t there when you cleared out our living room so that my brothers and I would have room to play games and just be kids. They’ve never woken up to the smell of one of your signature breakfasts, which you made for us every single day when we were growing up. And they weren’t there when you were making sure that I always took care of business in the classroom and graduated from high school with a 4.0 GPA.
But you were.
That isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff, but it’s a reminder that this is a family and, no matter the means of getting there, LaVar has helped Lonzo become one of the top young players in a stacked draft class. One could argue Lonzo would be the clear-cut No. 2 pick if the noise that comes attached with LaVar never existed.
LaVar may be a loud-mouthed, self-promoting man, but by all accounts he’s also a very good father. The problem is that he’s so aggressively supportive of his sons it often takes away from what he’s trying to accomplish, if we’re being honest.
Whether LaVar’s presence helps or hurts is up for you to decide, but it’s clear that his presence has been huge for Lonzo. Having a father to push and support him the way LaVar has shaped Lonzo, and not every athlete or person is as lucky to have that in their lives.
Lonzo’s conclusion touches on that, driving home a touching reminder that behind all the smoke and fire that comes with LaVar, there’s a very good father who’s helped create something for his family (via The Players’ Tribune):
I know there are a lot of kids who aren’t lucky enough to have a father figure in their lives. That’s a really tough obstacle to overcome. So regardless of what anyone else thinks of you, I’m just incredibly thankful to have you as my dad. If I didn’t have you as an influence in my life, I don’t think I’d be in the position I am today. Actually, I know I wouldn’t.
You haven’t had the easiest life. Everything you’ve got, you’ve had to work for. And you’ve spent your entire adult life instilling that work ethic into me and my brothers to make sure that we never have to face the same challenges that you did. I can’t think of anything else that you could ask for from a dad.
Thank you for teaching me how to play this game. Thank you for teaching me how to be a man. And thank you for never apologizing for being you.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Love you.
Call me crazy, but that’s a heartwarming story. There’s far more to it than that, so be sure to check out the full letter over at The Players’ Tribune.