LaVar Ball is an American media personality and businessman. He is the father of three basketball players: Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo; LiAngelo, who was enrolled at UCLA briefly with a basketball scholarship; and LaMelo. Ball is the founder and CEO of the sports apparel company Big Baller Brand and founder of the Junior Basketball Association (JBA).
Ball played basketball and American football while at Canoga Park High School, going on to play basketball at the collegiate level for West Los Angeles Collged, Washington State and Cal State Los Angeles. He played at Long Beach City College for a season, and had a short professional career with the London Monarchs of the World Leage of American Football, and as a practice squad member of the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers in 1995, but never played a game in the National Football league.
Following a series of bold statements in the spring of 2017, Ball began repeatedly making national sports headlines. His early remarks included saying that his son Lonzo is better than Stephen Curry and claiming that he himself could defeat Michael Jordan one-on-one in basketball. He was subject to both praise and criticism as he continued making similar comments, some of which involved his company, Big Baller Brand. Ball has made several appearances on national TV and has routinely drawn attention from major sports media outlets.
Ball has frequently drawn attention to his sports apparel company Big Baller Brand through the media. During his rise in March 2017, he often promoted his brand on national TV, comparing it with major shoe companies like Nike and Adidas. Soon after, Lonzo's connection to the brand while he played college basketball at UCLA raised questions about whether it broke National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules.In mid-March, Time wrote an article describing the Ball's campaign against the NCAA rules. On April 20, George Raveling, the global basketball sports marketing director of Nike, called Ball "the worst thing to happen to basketball in the last hundred years." In response, Ball claimed that Big Baller Brand would eventually compete with Nike. In the following week, Nike, Under Armour and Adidas declined to sign an endorsement deal with Lonzo, according to Ball.
On May 4, 2017, Big Baller Brand announced its first shoes, the ZO2, which had a retail price of $495 and would be shipped later as late as November 24. Shaquille O'Neal criticized Ball for overpricing the shoes, while Dick Vitale took aim at the price by citing Lonzo's performance against Kentucky at the NCAA Tournament. On Twitter, many NFL players like Golden Tate were critical of the shoe price, while Arian Fosterand others showed their support. Ball answered by posting on Twitter, "If you can't afford the ZO2'S, you're NOT a BIG BALLER!" The Washington Post wrote that Ball's style of promoting of the shoe was both shameless and smart
On September 1, 2017, Big Baller Brand announced a signature shoe for LaVar's youngest son LaMelo Ball, the Melo Ball 1 (MB1), on its website for pre-order for $395. The announcement once again stirred controversy regarding LaMelo's NCAA eligibility. NCAA spokesperson Emily James said, "Generally speaking, a college athlete or prospect paid for use of their athletics reputation or ability risks their future eligibility in that sport. This includes profiting from the sale of items bearing the young person's name. NCAA rules, however, do allow prospects to promote commercial products prior to enrollment, provided it is not for pay." LaVar expressed a general disregard for the NCAA rules, saying that the shoe would be released whether or not his son would become ineligible.
On December 20, 2017, Ball announced that under complete funding of the Big Baller Brand, he would help set up the creation of the Junior Basketball Association (JBA). Under his planning, the league is set up as an alternative to college basketball and other alternative methods for high school players that may not want to play in the collegiate level, with 10 teams being involved in the league looking to play in major NBA venues out in places like Los Angeles, Dallas, Brooklyn and Atlanta. The goal there is to have 80 different players participate in the league, with lower-ranked players earning $3,000 per month and higher-ranked players earning up to $10,000 per month. Its rules are set to be similar to that of the NBA with 12 minute quarters and a three-point line similar to what's seen in professional leagues like the NBA. Players would also wear merchandise from the Big Baller Brand, including shoes and branded uniforms; the Junior Basketball Association's logo is set to have a silhouette of his son Lonzo. His inspiration for creating the league came from the aftermath of LiAngelo Ball's situation in UCLA, which resulted in his removal from the school earlier in December, as a response to comments made by NCAA President Mark Emmeret. Ironically, neither LiAngelo nor his brother LaMelo would be set to play in the league due to their contracts in Lithuania.