Lavar Ball: Unjustified Judgement as a Black Father

“I mean honestly he just seems like a proud black dad to me” were the words spoken by Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman during a statement made on the Players Tribune. Sherman is part of the minority of people who believe that Lavar Ball’s media antics and deification of his sons are nothing more than a father who is proud of his family. Sherman understood why Lavar is outspoken. “That may be how I am as a dad, [there isn’t] anything wrong with being proud of your kids”.

Lavar Ball has said some outrageous things about himself and his family this year. Most famously, during an interview with Josh Peters of USA Today, Lavar spurred controversy when he placed himself over six-time NBA Champion, Michael Jordan, to win in a 1 on 1 match. “Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one”. Lavar Ball played for Washington State University back in 1987 and averaged 2.2 points per game…Yikes.

He has also said that his son is a better player than 2 time NBA champion Stephen Curry. His comments aren’t meant to be taken seriously. However, if you do take his comments to heart, how would you portray your own family to the world? I would only expect a father to say great things about his sons, on a large platform like the NBA stage.

The amount of criticism Lavar receives in the media is laughable considering he is just a father who is confident in his family. In sports culture where there is a lack of involved black fathers, Ball is receiving an enormous amount of criticism for being exactly that; a supportive black father that has paved the way for his family’s success on and off the court.

While he is supporting his sons’ basketball careers, he is also spearheading the rehab of his wife Tina, after she suffered a massive stroke last March leaving her severely disabled. The excessive judgement of Lavar Ball’s character and role as a parent is superficial and doesn’t show Lavar in any other light besides a cocky, loud, and naïve basketball dad.

Although to some degree he may fall under that description. Lavar Ball is much more than that, as evident in the creation of the Big Baller Brand. Lavar is successful and he has leveraged his success using harmless banter. He is far from dumb, and I believe the continuous hypercriticism he receives only projects him further as an entertainer and businessman. While the media spends hours critiquing and analyzing his every comment, Lavar continues to fill his role as a black father providing for his family; a role that should only receive immense praise.

People say he is writing cheques that his sons can’t cash. I say he’s empowering his sons continuously to succeed in their careers. I don’t believe Lavar has stood in the way of their success, but rather he’s paved the way for them to succeed. People are watching, and Lavar is a father and husband that will do everything he can, to show the world how proud he is of his family. He brings a dynamic to the sports world that we haven’t seen since Terrence Williams; a polarizing and entertaining father of athletes, whose relentless support of his family brings in hordes of critics and supporters.

Lavar is a character, who has woven himself into the NBA dynamic. He is a voice of controversy that people want to prove wrong. He embraces the target on his family’s back and lets it push them to succeed. His presence in sports has left people debating whether his opinions are relevant or not, but that doesn’t matter to Lavar. He just wants to see his family win and he won’t let anything get in the way of that. Richard Sherman is one of the few athletes that have supported Lavar. “He’s not a deadbeat dad. He’s a guy out there who raised his kids the right way and gave them a shot, and they’re out there taking advantage of the opportunities”. Lavar Ball is polarizing, entertaining, and at times crazy,  but ultimately, he is a black father who is most definitely proud.

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