Grizzlies’ Ja Morant risks stellar career as legal troubles mount
Ja Morant has a passion for guns — and he’s taking direct aim at his career.
At $193 million, the 23-year-old hoops phenom is already being compared to the likes of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, who are cashing in on lucrative deals with Nike and Powerade.
But like so many talented-but-troubled athletes before him, Morant is barely clinging to the mountain of success with slippery feet.
The Memphis Grizzlies have benched their star point guard for at least two games after he filmed himself flashing a handgun at a bar Saturday morning, prompting a police investigation.
But Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins indicated Sunday that Morant’s suspension could be longer.
“We’re taking it one day at a time,” Jenkins told reporters before a game against the Clippers. “There’s no definitive timeline … it’s not really a timetable situation.”
The Instagram clip — which showed the two-time NBA All-Star shirtless at a club, smiling as he waved a pistol at the camera — is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Morant’s troubles.
Morant posted the video a few days after the Washington Post Morant published a bombshell report detailing the two conflicts that had occurred the previous summer: one with a 17-year-old basketball prospect at his Tennessee home and one with a security guard at a Memphis shopping mall.
When combined with other incidents — such as allegations that Morant’s entourage may have pointed a red laser that was possibly connected to a gun at members of the Indiana Pacers in February — the portrait of a young athlete in front Begins to arrive ready to destroy. Unprecedented opportunities were placed before him.
The merchandise altercation, which took place at a Finish Line shoe store in July 2022, began when Morant’s mother began arguing with an employee, according to records obtained by The Washington Post.
He called Morant, who confronted the director of mall security in the parking lot with his entourage. They argued, and one of Morant’s friends allegedly shoved the guard in the head, the newspaper said.
As they were leaving, Morant allegedly told the others that he wanted to find out when the guard got off work. The Washington Post said the guard felt threatened and demanded a police report be filed.
Eventually, both parties left the scene and no arrests were made.
Just four days later on July 26, Morant and a friend allegedly assaulted a 17-year-old male during a pickup basketball game at Morant’s brick mansion on the outskirts of Memphis, the newspaper said.
The teenager — who was reportedly infatuated with Morant and told police he thought of the Grizzlies star as a mentor — was protecting Morant when things turned ugly.
It is not clear what prompted the exchange. But Morant threw a hard ball at the boy while he was checking it, the Washington Post said. The boy returned it just as hard, but the ball went through Morant’s hands and hit him in the face, the boy later told police.
Morant allegedly rested his chin on the young man’s shoulder, then asked his friend, “Do I do this to him?”
His friend said he should, the Washington Post said. So Morant allegedly punched the boy, connecting with his chin as the friend attacked from the other side, catching the young man in a flying fist.
The duo continued the beating until they were kicked out. Morant then allegedly went to her house, got his gun, tucked it into his pants and walked out. He did not pull out the weapon, the newspaper said. But he kept his hand on it.
The Washington Post said that when Tee Morant yelled at his point guard son to get back inside.
Morant later told police he acted in self-defense as the boy threw the ball at him, then reached over and pulled down his pants. He interpreted this as a sign that the child wanted to fight.
According to the Washington Post, Morant told the detectives, “All right, now I have to protect myself. “I swung first … the ball was my first swing.”
As the weeks passed, accusations flew between the parties — including a police report filed by the Morantes that said the boy allegedly “planned to come back and light the place up like firecrackers.” threatened.”
In September, the youth and his mother sued Morant and his friend, Devonte Peck. But ongoing lawsuits, First reported by TMZ in Januarywas sealed immediately, according to reports.
An attorney for Morant reportedly called the lawsuit a sham.
The family’s attorney, Rebecca Edelman, did not respond to a request for comment from the Post on Monday.
But in a statement from January Published by WMC-TV Action News 5 in MemphisEdelman’s firm called the fight “a tragic situation involving an assault and battery by two adults on a minor during a basketball game at Mr. Morant’s home.”
“Our client’s mental and physical well-being are our priorities now and in his future,” the statement said, adding that there would be no further comment.
At the same time, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office announced that there was “insufficient evidence to proceed with a case.”
Morant’s actions have disappointed those closest to him, sources said, including his biggest defender, father Tee Morant, who would have joined Fox Sports host Shannon Sharp at a Lakers game in January. were caught
“His father is really disappointed with the choices his son has made lately, and the fact that his life choices led him to grab a handgun is beyond stupid,” a source told the Post. Said the elder Morant was “surprised.” By video.
“Making it into the NBA is already like drawing a lottery ticket, so it’s even more frustrating for him to mess with the bag,” the friend added. “He was brought up in a two-family home and attended private school. So being a rogue and trying to portray a lifestyle is the furthest thing from the truth when it comes to Ja’s upbringing…he wasn’t raised that way. “
Even if the legal cases peter out, Morant, who grew up in South Carolina, would do well to seek advice from Shannon Sharpe, who has emerged as one of his staunchest critics.
“Yeah, just move differently, that’s the advice,” Sharpe said on FS1. “I will never give you any advice on how to play basketball, but I will try to give you some advice on how to move forward. Let someone else’s lesson be your lesson.”
Additional reporting by Tashara Jones