Ball Mania in Lithuania

The recent happenings of the Ball family include the two younger brothers, LiAngelo and Lamelo have gone to Lithuania to play basketball. Was it their choice or was it forced upon them by their controlling father, Lavar?


by Delaney Hupke, Staff Writer

Sometime last year I was just scrolling through my social medias and I came across a video of a high school sophomore who scored 92 points in one basketball game. Intrigued, I did some research and found that this sophomore was LaMelo Ball. I kept researching and digging and found that he has two other basketball prodigy brothers and a very, let’s say, outgoing father. And thus, my infatuation with the Ball family began.

Most recently, the two youngest Ball brothers went to Lithuania to play on a club team there. Their father, Lavar, pulled LaMelo out of Chino Hills High School and LiAngelo out of UCLA so they could go pro in Europe. Dropping out of school seems like a pretty big deal, but they were probably only going to attend one year of college anyway before going into the NBA draft.

Knowing that their father is a fame seeking, big mouthed,  prideful man, there are some immediate questions that come to mind. Did Gelo and Melo actually want to leave school or did Lavar force it upon them? Is this just a publicity stunt, or does Lavar actually have his sons’ best interests at heart? Lithuania? That’s the best you could do? Or did you just want Gelo and Melo to be the star players?

The thing I wonder about the most though, is where Lavar’s intentions lie. Does he want his children to be really good at basketball and play the sport they love, or does he just want a bigger name. I think that Lavar is only in it for himself. He is trying so hard to make his kids the famous basketball stars he could never be. He wants his kids to be so good and the only way he can think of to make that happen is to control everything they do.

He even went as far as claiming that Lakers coach Luke Walton doesn’t have control of the team anymore, claiming that “they don’t want to play for him.” And did I mention that this was only after a game when Lonzo didn’t see much playing time. It’s not like Walton is being over paid for this job, but hey Lakers, you hired a bad coach. It has to be true because Lavar knows everything about the game, doesn’t he? Obviously everyone should listen to the man who averaged 2 points a game in college, right? Wrong.

Lavar’s bold claims might even lead to the downfall of his sons’ careers. His latest statement is that his eldest son Lonzo won’t re-sign with the Lakers unless they sign Melo and Gelo too. This could lead to the Lakers not even giving Lonzo the option to re-sign. I mean, it’s not like he is a really valuable player at the moment.

Melo and Gelo might not even want to play with their brother, or in Lithuania for that matter. Even if Melo and Gelo want to play with their brother on the Lakers, there is no guarantee that they will get drafted. Everyone is supposed to jump through hoops and run through fire to make sure Lavar gets what he wants. It’s all Lavar, Lavar, Lavar.

It makes me wonder how often he asks his kids what they truly want. I imagine Melo and Gelo just waking up one morning to Lavar’s loud commanding voice yelling “PACK YOUR BAGS BOYS, YOU’RE GOING TO LITHUANIA”. Whether or not they wanted to make this drastic change in their lifestyle, to Lithuania they went. And Lavar followed, yelling at their coaches, complaining about their playing time and arguing with anyone who dares to defy him.

Already, there are reports that Lavar has told the Lithuanian team how they should play. Of course, this was only after Gelo and Melo had a scoreless game. So was he standing up for his kids in a strange way, or was he just mad that it was bringing dishonor to the Ball name? According to Lavar, he was “just sharing [his] thoughts”. Sharing them with a team that he is not the coach of nor should have any say in how it is run.

Their whopping zero combined points in their pro debut only shows that they have a long way to go from being drafted into the NBA, but their new home Prienai, that could be compared to a farm town gives them nothing but time to practice and improve. Without many malls, restaurants and probably camera crews, Gelo and Melo will be playing basketball most of the time.

Now that they are signing a contract to the BC Vytautas Club in Prienai, Lithuania, publicity stunt or not, this is their life now. Going from sunny California to cold Lithuania will be a bit of a change, but knowing that it is all for to play basketball is consolation enough for them. Whether they are doing it for their family’s fame or for their love of the game, they have really shown that Ball is life.