Lonzo Ball’s father, LaVar Ball, has been no stranger to the spotlight as his son heads to the NBA. LaVar’s wife, Tina Ball, is less into the spotlight. The family has been through a challenging time as Tina recovers from a stroke.
LaVar is well known as the father who trained three basketball prodigies, and as someone whose interviews create viral soundbites. LaVar defended his outlook in an interview with SLAM Magazine.
“We’re doing some s— that has never been done before,” LaVar told SLAM. “We kind of march to our own beat in the fact that we make our own rules. Anyone that’s super successful, they didn’t stay on the same road. They kind of went their own way, so we jumped out the box and took a risk.”
LaVar got his wish on draft night as the Los Angeles Lakers selected Lonzo Ball. LaVar had been vocal about the Lakers being his son’s NBA destination long before it was a sure thing.
Learn more about Lonzo’s parents who have been with him every step of the way.
1. Lonzo’s Mother, Tina, Had a Stroke in February 2017
After months of speculation, Lonzo and LaVar confirmed in an interview with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Tina suffered a stroke in February. Lonzo explained the stroke left her speechless for several months.
“Words really can’t describe how much she does for us. She’s a lot like my dad: energetic … except she’s not crazy on the cameras…She can’t really talk right now,” Lonzo told ESPN. “But she definitely knows what we’re saying, and she smiles all the time. So that’s a good thing.”
In a June interview with ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, LaVar gave an update on his wife’s condition. He noted she was able to say a few words, and he was taking responsibility for taking care of Tina.
Like I told my boys: ‘I got her. Now you can do whatever you want to do. What I’m not going to is burden you with sitting there rubbing her hand. … We’re not making a movie.’ … That’s my wife, and I take care of her.
She wants to talk, and she can get out a few words…I’m rebooting her right now. She’s saying, ‘LaVar, you’re right. You are right.’ That’s all I want to hear her say. Now we can get another 25 years having a good time. She is going to get better with me.
2. LaVar Has Been Criticized For His Comments About Women
It is easy to start a sentence that reads “LaVar has been criticized…”, because he has been criticized a lot. At times, it is difficult to decipher which things he believes, and what words he utters in an effort to make viral videos. His latest quotes about his wife were meant to serve as a sidebar to his parenting style, but ended up as a bizarre example.
Here is the story LaVar relayed to ESPN.
I told them, ‘If you’re going to be disrespectful to your mom, I want you to be all the time.’ So, excuse my language right here, but if you want to say, ‘Good morning, b—-,’ that’s fine with me. I’m not going to say nothing. If you want to call your mom a b—-, that’s fine. But don’t get sick, when your stomach is hurting and you want me to care for you because you know I ain’t. … She’ll clean up the throw-up, the s—, whatever. She’ll take care of what you want. … So don’t wait until you need something, or you need her to make you something, and now you want to be nice to her. …
So they never disrespect their mom or talk back to her or say nothing. Because I say, ‘In the long run, you’re going to need her before you need me.’
The Washington Post’s Des Bieler offered a good critique of LaVar’s comments.
“Again, Ball’s goal is commendable in terms of wanting his sons to appreciate all the things their mother does for them and to treat her with the respect she deserves,” Bieler writes. “It’s just that the way he is framing things, including suggesting that the only reason his sons should not use degrading language toward their mother is because of the many tasks they can expect her to perform for them (what about all the women who won’t have similar expectations?), seems potentially problematic.”
This comes after his exchange with FS1’s Kristine Leahy where he claimed Big Baller Brand was not a “women’s company”. There’s also the countless times he has recounted the story of telling his wife he only creates boys not girls.
3. The Couple Met as College Basketball Players
Tina and LaVar met when the two were college basketball players at Cal State. Prior to her stroke, Tina was an athletic director at a middle school located in Montclair, California.
According to Sports Illustrated, LaVar played at Washington State during the 1997-98 season. LaVar averaged 2.2 points, 2.3 rebounds and one assist during that one season. He ended up transferring to Cal State, a division two school, where he met Tina.
4. LaVar Had a Brief Stint in the NFL & NFL Europe
According to Bleacher Report, LaVar had a brief stint with the Jets practice squad where he played defensive end and tight end. The Jets loaned him to the London Monarchs, an NFL Europe team. One of his former Monarchs teammates, Kenny McEntyre, was less than complimentary of LaVar’s game.
“Man, he’s talking all that junk—and he was garbage,” McEntyre told Bleacher Report. “Personally, I think the most athletic people in the world are basketball players, and he actually wasn’t a bad athlete, to be honest with you. But he was no comparison to what his kids are—let’s just put it like that.”
While he tried to transition from a basketball player to tight end, LaVar is still most confident in his basketball ability.
“Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one,” LaVar told USA Today. “I would just back [Jordan] in and lift him off the ground and call a foul every time he fouls me when I do a jump hook to the right or the left. He cannot stop me one-on-one. He better make every shot ’cause he can’t go around me. He’s not fast enough. And he can only make so many shots outside before I make every bucket under the rim.”
5. LaVar Partnered With Leaf Trading Cards to Release His Own Signature Trading Cards
His son, Lonzo, is not the only Ball making money. LaVar signed a deal with Leaf Trading Cards featuring some of his most outlandish quotes along with his autograph. “Lonzo better than Steph Curry” is just one of several quotes to make the cut. According to ESPN, the cards sold out in one minute on eBay with each card selling for $59.95 each.
“The fact is that LaVar Ball is a significant pop culture icon,” Leaf Cards CEO Brian Gray told ESPN. “My job is to create a collectible element for personalities like him. We’ll now see if the market is real, not based on what people will pay to first buy them, but what they will resell them for.”
LaVar insisted to ESPN the move was not made for money.
“This wasn’t all about the money. I think it’s cool to have a card,” Ball told ESPN.