(AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)
Just days after he took part in an ad for Foot Locker that poked fun at their relationship, Lonzo Ball published a piece on The Player's Tribune thanking his father LaVar for raising him to be the man and player he is today.
The letter, written as a Father's Day tribute, acknowledges the character that LaVar has become as a result of his media attention and bold, sometimes absurd claims. As Lonzo puts it, the letter offers him a chance to speak about LaVar as, "The real you — not the person everyone has seen on TV. Just, my dad."
In his letter, Lonzo seems to address the perception of their relationship head on:
"A lot of people ask if I ever get sick of you talking about me. They see how I mostly keep to myself and assume that I’d rather you acted the same way."
Lonzo goes on to note that although he's not as outward with his confidence as his father, he believes he has the same confidence within himself, and credits LaVar for instilling it in him.
"People may not see it, but I possess the very same confidence that you have. (I think Melo got all of the talking genes.) In fact, when I think about it, confidence is the most important thing that I inherited from you. The difference is, I've internalized it. Everything you've told me, I've absorbed and used on the court. That's where I do my talking."
"The confidence that you have in me makes me feel so strong. It's helped me to never back down from a challenge and to stay true to myself. I'm going to be taking this next step to the NBA knowing that I'm ready. And no matter what’s thrown at me, I know you're always going to have my back."
(Mark J. Terrill/AP)
LaVar has been something of a lightning rod of attention throughout the college season and during the run-up to the NBA Draft, making headline grabbing comments after UCLA's loss in the Sweet Sixteen and claiming that he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one in his prime. His active pursuit of the limelight while his son seems to stay quiet is a theme many observers have caught onto, the point eventually synthesized in a meme showing the duo walking onto the set of "First Take" with LaVar clearly the more excited of the two.
My friends at the club: LaVar Ball— Jablogi Parker (@KofieYeboah) March 27, 2017
Me at the club: Lonzo Ball pic.twitter.com/ddSJlKUBqw
The letter is a savvy move for both Lonzo and LaVar. In Lonzo's case, it presents himself with a bit more agency with regard to his career than the current narrative around their relationship would have you believe — Lonzo is quiet because he want's to be, not because he's embarrassed by his father's outlandish antics.
Additionally, the letter works as an attempt to humanize LaVar. He's not a media-addicted pseudo-celebrity; he's a loving father, who wants what's best for his children, and is willing to yell from the rooftops so that the world knows it. Combine this with the new Foot Locker commercial that serves to show Lonzo is capable of leaning into the media's perception of him and his father for the sake of a solid punchline, and it's been a few good days for the Big Baller Brand.
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