Ja Morant has an obsession with guns, and it’s putting his career on the line.
The $193 million, 23-year-old hoops phenom is already drawing comparisons to the likes of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, landing lucrative deals with Nike and Powerade.
But like so many gifted but troubled athletes before him, Morant is hardly holding on to the slippery slope of success.
The Memphis Grizzlies have suspended their star point guard for at least two games after he was filmed flashing a gun at a bar Saturday morning, prompting a police investigation.
But Grizzlies 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 specific timeline. … It’s not really a timetable situation.”
The Instagram clip — which showed the two-time NBA All-Star shirtless in a clubhouse, smiling while waving a gun at the camera — is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Morant’s troubles.
The Memphis Grizzlies suspended rookie point guard Ja Morant on Saturday after he allegedly fired a gun at a club on social media. NBAE via Getty Images
Morant posted the video just days after the Washington Post published a bombshell report detailing two confrontations last summer: one with a 17-year-old basketball player at his Tennessee home and another with a security guard at a Memphis mall.
Combined with other incidents (such as allegations that Morant’s entourage may have pointed a red laser attached to a gun at members of the Indiana Pacers in February), it begins to paint a portrait of a young athlete who is willing to waste it. he was presented with enormous opportunities.
The July 2022 commercial dispute at a Finish Line shoe store began when Morant’s mother began arguing with an employee, according to records obtained by The Washington Post.
He called Morant, and with his entourage, he finally confronted the mall’s security director in the parking lot. They quarreled, and one of Morant’s friends allegedly pushed the guard in the head, the newspaper reported.
A source said the video shocked Morant’s father, Tee Morant, who is “really disappointed in the choices his son has made lately.”Twitter DJ Akademiks @Akademiks
As they were leaving, Morant allegedly told the others that he wanted to know what time the guard got off work. The guard felt threatened and wanted to file a police report, the Washington Post said.
Eventually, the parties left the scene and no arrests were made.
Four days later, on July 26, Morant and a friend allegedly assaulted a 17-year-old male during a basketball game at Morant’s brick mansion outside Memphis, the newspaper said.
The teenager — who had a crush on Morant and told police she thought the Grizzlies star was a mentor — was looking after Morant when things got ugly.
Morant, a two-time NBA All-Star, also allegedly assaulted a 17-year-old male at Morant’s Tennessee home. NBAE via Getty Images
It’s unclear what prompted the exchange. But Morant threw the ball hard at the boy as he was checking, the Washington Post said. The boy threw it back just as hard, but the ball went through Morante’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, “Did I do it?”
His friend said he needed it, the Washington Post reported. So Morant allegedly punched the boy, hooking him on the chin as his friend attacked from the other side, catching the young man in a flying pincer.
The pair continued to beat each other until they were taken down. Morant allegedly entered his home, grabbed the gun, put it in his pants and went outside. He did not draw his firearm, the newspaper said. But he put his hand on it.
Tee Morant then yelled at his point guard son to come back inside, the Washington Post said.
Morant also reportedly had a confrontation with a security guard at a Memphis mall last summer.NBAE via Getty Images
Morant later told police he acted in self-defense because the boy threw the ball, then stepped forward and pulled up his pants. This was interpreted by the child as a sign that he wanted to fight.
“Okay, now I have to protect myself,” Morant told detectives, according to the Washington Post. “I took the first swing… The ball was the first swing for me.”
Allegations between the parties continued to fly as the weeks went on – including a police report filed by the Morants that the boy allegedly “threatened to come back and light them like fireworks.”
In September, the teenager and his mother sued Morant and his friend, Davonte Pack. But the ongoing lawsuit, first reported by TMZ in January, was immediately sealed, according to reports.
An attorney for Morant reportedly called the case a shambles.
In addition to his big NBA contract, Morant (left) has deals with Powerade and Nike. NBAE via Getty Images
Rebecca Adelman, the family’s attorney, did not respond to The Post’s request for comment Monday.
But in a January statement released by WMC-TV Action News 5 in Memphis, Adelman’s company called the fight a “tragic situation” involving the attack and assault of a minor by two adults during a basketball game at Mr. Morant’s home.
“Our client’s mental and physical well-being now and in his future are our top priorities,” the statement said, adding that there would be no further comment.
At the same time, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office stated that there was “insufficient evidence to proceed with a case.”
Morant’s antics have deeply disappointed those closest to him, sources said, including his biggest defender, father Tee Morant, who was caught making out with Fox Sports host Shannon Sharpe during a Lakers game in January.
The backlog of legal issues threatens to derail the young star’s prolific NBA career. Bally Sports
“His father is really disappointed in the choices his son has made lately, and the fact that his life choices have led him to pick up a gun is nothing short of stupid,” a source told The Post, adding that the elder Morant was “shocked.” through video
“Getting into the NBA is already like hitting the lottery, so breaking the bank is even more disappointing,” the friend continued. “He grew up in a two-family home and went to private school. So being sneaky and trying to portray that lifestyle is the furthest thing from the truth when it comes to Ja’s upbringing…he didn’t grow up that way.’
Even if the legal cases are settled, Morant, who grew up in South Carolina, would do well to take the advice of Shannon Sharpe, who has emerged as one of his fiercest critics.
“Ha, move the other way, that’s the only advice,” Sharpe said on FS1. “I would never give you advice on how to play basketball, but I would try to give you advice on how to move. Let someone else’s lesson be your lesson”.
Additional reporting by Tashara Jones