Memphis Grizzlies superstar, Ja Morant has found himself in yet another scandal, possibly risking his NBA career once again. This past Saturday, 23-year-old Morant was seen flashing a handgun on his close friend Davonte Pack’s Instagram live stream. This comes just months after Morant was suspended by the NBA for flashing a handgun in a strip club in March of this year. Now, one of the NBA’s most promising stars has been suspended from all team activities until further notice for the second time in less than six months. This leaves many basketball fans with many questions: Why would Morant risk a multi-million dollar career? Does Morant deserve a third chance? Will he ever be able to recover from yet another scandal?
The answer to the first question is evident when looking into Morant’s run-ins with the law in the past few years: Both his friends and family enable his bad behavior. During the summer of 2022, police were called to a Memphis mall after Morant’s mother got into a heated argument with an employee. Unable to reach an agreement, Morant’s mother called Morant to the mall to handle the situation. Morant and multiple friends arrived at the mall, where they were met by mall security and asked to leave. This led to a violent altercation between Morant and the security guard, where one of Morant’s friends allegedly threatened the guard.
A similar situation occurred when in September of 2022, Morant’s mother called Morant and his friends to his sister, Niya Morant’s high school after she had a disagreement with another student during a volleyball game. Morant and his friends reportedly broke a student’s phone after they tried to record the altercation.
Morant’s friend, Davonte Pack has become a familiar name in nearly all of Morant’s run-ins with the law. Pack and Morant allegedly assaulted a 17-year-old boy after a pickup basketball game turned violent (just four days after the altercation at the mall). Although Morant told police that he acted in self-defense after the boy threw a basketball at his head, the investigation is still ongoing. It was later revealed that Morant flashed a gun at the teenager after the fight. Pack has also been banned from attending games at the Memphis Grizzlies’ home arena after an altercation with the Pacers earlier this year.
The pattern of family members and friends enabling and supporting bad behavior is a constant theme in Morant’s and many other young people’s lives. Jatalia Barnes, an 18-year-old basketball fan, shared a personal story about the dangers of giving in to bad influences, “I have a cousin who was raised with similar morals to me, but he let his friends influence him and turn him into something that he was never meant to be.” As a 23-year-old millionaire, Morant is bound to have bad influences surrounding him. “If you’ve got people in your corner who claim to want to see you win but tear you down in the process, then it’s time to reevaluate who you consider your friends and family,” Barnes added.
I believe that Morant needs a support system of people who care about his future and won’t risk his position in the NBA. I can only hope that Morant gets one more chance to prove himself as one of our generation’s most talented basketball players.
By Amaar Zarrieff, Freshman, Howard University
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