That was all in good fun, though, and Lonzo Ball clearly wanted to let the world know that he really does love his dad. In an essay for The Players’ Tribune published Friday, two days before Father’s Day, the 19-year-old praised LaVar Ball for being so instrumental in molding him into a person of high character and achievement, and for “never apologizing for being you.”
“One of the things I admire most about you is that you don’t really care what other people think,” Lonzo Ball wrote in an open letter to his father titled, “To the Loudest Guy in the Gym.”
“People can have whatever opinions they want about who you are as a person, but they’ll never have all the facts,” Ball said. “They’ll never know you like I do.”
Noting that LaVar Ball made sure his oldest son (he has two younger sons, both high school basketball standouts) “always took care of business in the classroom and graduated from high school with a 4.0 GPA,” Ball said, “It didn’t matter if you were coaching my team or sitting in the stands, I’ve always known you were watching me closely because I could always hear you.
“And that’s how it’s always been — you’re not just present, you’re involved.”
Ball’s comments echoed those made by Magic Johnson, the Lakers president whose team is widely expected to make the player’s dream come true by drafting him with the No. 2 pick. In May, Johnson said that LaVar Ball deserved “a lot of credit for being in not just Lonzo’s life, but the other two sons, as well.”
“Look, the Kardashians, we didn’t say that the mom was bad, and she made them a lot of money, right?” Johnson said. “She’s bragged on her daughters, and I think it’s the same here. He’s just saying, ‘Hey, my son is great,’ and there’s nothing bad with that.”
In his essay, Ball said that, while growing up in the Los Angeles area, he “wanted to be a point guard, just like Magic Johnson.” He said his father, a personal trainer, “agreed to show [him] how to get there,” and he took his three sons through grueling workouts, including “the hill.”
“Oh man, that hill,” Ball ruefully recalled.
LaVar Ball was not invited to Lonzo’s first workout with the Lakers, but he was present for the second one, held Friday at the team’s practice facility. A source told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that Friday’s workout was “solid,” but earlier reports indicated that the Lakers may prefer Kansas’s Josh Jackson or Washington’s Markelle Fultz, if either is available.
As for LaVar Ball’s many outlandish claims, including that Lonzo, while still at UCLA, was already better than two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry, his son said, “When I think about it, confidence is the most important thing that I inherited from you.” The younger Ball, who exhibits a notably quieter demeanor, noted that the “difference” between them is that he does his talking “on the court.”
Many feel that LaVar Ball has placed unnecessary pressure on his son to live up to the hype by succeeding in the NBA, but Lonzo wrote that with his father’s help, “I’m going to be taking this next step to the NBA knowing that I’m ready. … I want you to see me play and be able to sit back with a sense of satisfaction knowing that I made it. That we made it.”
“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,” Ball wrote. “So regardless of what anyone else thinks of you, I’m just incredibly thankful to have you as my dad.”