Lonzo Ball had another trying season on the basketball court this year, as injuries limited him to 47 games. Then, just as he was starting to play the best basketball of his career — including a couple of strong performances in nationally-televised games — an ankle injury ruled him out for the rest of the year.
However, basketball was arguably the least of Ball’s worries last year. In March, it was reported that Ball believed his close family friend Alan Foster, someone who he considered a second father and who had a dedicated room in the house he bought for his parents, was allegedly stealing money from Big Baller Brand.
Ball and his brothers quickly distanced themselves from the company, and he said during an appearance on HBO’s “The Shop” that the impetus for him taking control of his life, specifically his financial future, came from the birth of his daughter Zoey:
”I think when my daughter was born, that’s when it really kind of clicked. Like ‘yo, you gotta start taking control, because now I’m not just doing shit for me, or my mom and my dad — who I love — but I’ve got to look out for a little one that’s mine. That I brought into the world.’ So I mean, when she was born, I started thinking about it, and then just everything that happened recently with Alan and everything, that’s what kind of woke me up.”
In the clip, you can hear how emotional the situation was for Lonzo, who was already dealing with his mom’s recovery from a stroke when he discovered Foster’s malfeasance. The Lakers point guard is only 21 years old, and breaking ties with Foster was a seismic shift in his family’s dynamic.
When asked why what Foster did hurt him so much, Lonzo was candid:
”I’ve known him since I was 12... People don’t understand how (close he was)... I bought my mom and dad a house, and he had a room in there. So like what the media sees... The way I feel about him is different, that’s why I covered the BBB (tattoo) up on my arm. Because when I saw that, I saw him and that s--- just made me so (angry). Because when we looked at the transactions, s--- didn’t start happening until my mom got sick, because she took care of all the money s---.
“So that’s what really hurt me, like that s--- hurt me. Like I don’t even know what I would do if I see him right now. I ain’t seen him. So it was like when that happened, everything just went off.”
The experience caused Ball to assume a new role in his family, as he transitioned from being a son to being an equal partner with his dad in taking care of their company, and their livelihood. Demonstrating that level of maturity earned the respect of his teammate LeBron James, who understands acutely what it means to have to become a man and assume this type of responsibility at a young age.
Later in the conversation, Ball was asked if it was difficult to tell his dad — who was really close with Foster — what he and his financial manager had discovered. Once again, he was candid:
”It wasn’t hard, because people see my dad how the media sees him, but me? I can tell him anything. But that’s the first time I would say that I called him and he literally shut up, I will say that. I looked at D-Mo (Lonzo’s business manager) and I was like ‘he ain’t talking.’ He’s always talking. That’s the first time I was like ‘no, you need to listen.’
“So that was hard, because that was the first time he talked and I was like ‘no, let me talk.’ It stopped, and I pulled up to the house that night and laid it out for him and we’ve been moving forward ever since.”
It sounds like Lonzo has taken the necessary steps to work through this difficult period, and he’s coming out of it stronger. And while he manages this situation for his family, hopefully, the clarity in Lonzo’s personal life allows him to move forward with his professional life as well.