Lonzo Ball Pens Tribute to LaVar in the Players Tribune

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 16, 2017

FILE - In this March 4, 2017, file photo, UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, right, shakes hands with his father LaVar following an NCAA college basketball game against Washington State in Los Angeles. The outspoken father of former UCLA star Lonzo Ball said Wednesday, May 17, on Fox Sport 1's
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Lonzo Ball published an open letter to his outspoken dad, LaVar Ball, as a Father's Day tribute Friday thanking him for all the work he did to help the UCLA standout point guard become a top prospect in the 2017 NBA draft.

Ball posted the message on The Players' Tribune. He joked about the amount of attention his dad has received recently, saying "over the past few months, you've talked a lot about me—maybe more than some people cared for," before talking about the "real" LaVar.

"You haven't had the easiest life," Lonzo wrote. "Everything you've got, you've had to work for. And you've spent your entire adult life instilling that work ethic into me and my brothers to make sure that we never have to face the same challenges that you did. I can't think of anything else that you could ask for from a dad."

Ball noted his father has "always been the loudest person in the gym" and doesn't "really care what other people think," two facts that come as no surprise to anybody who's taken interest in the family since LaVar became a media sensation.

But he also talked about the behind-the-scenes encouragement his dad provided, whether pushing him to maintain his 4.0 GPA in high school or improve on the basketball court.

"And when I did need some motivation, you always knew just how to push my buttons," he wrote on The Players' Tribune. "It wasn't by making me do more reps or anything like that. It just came down to saying something simple like, 'I hope you know that you're not getting better.' That was all I ever needed to hear from you to make me keep grinding."

The Ball family patriarch has made a wide range of outlandish claims during his spotlight. They included stating he could beat Michael Jordan in a one-on-on game and claiming Lonzo was already better during his time with the Bruins than two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry.

In March, one NBA general manager told Sean Deveney of the Sporting News his hands-on approach is something teams would be forced to consider during the process of draft evaluations.

"It doesn't help, all this stuff with his father," the GM said. "I don't know what is gained for the kid by putting that much pressure on him. Nobody from the league has been meeting with (Lonzo Ball) or anything, but that is going to be another thing to look at when it comes to due diligence before the draft. How does he handle his dad, is it just something he laughs about, or is it real pressure on him?"

Alas, don't expect LaVar to change his ways, regardless of the outside perception. With two more basketball-playing sons on the way up the ranks, LiAngelo and LaMelo, he told Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com last week: "I ain't stepping back to nothing. ... I don't step back. Why would I change?"

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