LiAngelo Ball is signing a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with the Detroit Pistons, a development first reported by NBA writer Shams Charania of The Athletic. If the report is true, that keeps the middle brother of the Ball clan on track to make an NBA roster and fulfill a promise made by their father, LaVar Ball — that all three of his sons would play in the league.
“I see my boys, in the near future man, they’re going to be the face of the NBA. Everybody’s trying to create the big three. They’ve been the big three since they’ve been babies,” LaVar told The Player’s Tribune in April. “And people are telling me ‘Man, you know the odds of all three of your boys being on the same team?’ and I say ‘Yeah, probably the same odds of me coming into the NBA with my own brand.’ Don’t tell me nothing about no odds.”
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 23: LiAngelo Ball (L) poses with father LaVar Ball (R). (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)
The Ball family already made history in November when LaMelo was drafted third overall in the NBA draft, making him and Lonzo the first siblings to be selected as top-three NBA picks.
When news of LiAngelo’s deal broke, social media users once again celebrated LaVar as an example of a great Black father who epitomizes manifestation.
“All 3 Ball Brothers Are Now In The NBA! Lonzo Ball – NOLA Pelicans LaMelo Ball – Charlotte Hornets LiAngelo Ball – Detroit Pistons LaVar Ball Raised The 3 NBA Players & Spoke This Into Existence,” tweeted entertainment page Something For The Youth.
“I mean he actually even said he made sure his wife was a certain height and weight so his children would be taller on top of spending thousands putting them through camps and training but just keep shunning our black fathers he barely get portrayed for the good they do,” wrote Twitter user @youngzionf.
“He smartly took them to Euro leagues out of that College Indentured Slavery mess. People doubted him when he had his boys playing in Lithuania. But it did wonders over here for the profile of our teams and Lithuanian players are pretty good so he had to up his game,” added user @mom_freds.
“I told you so,” LaVar tweeted again (he said this when LaMelo was drafted), along with a photo of his three sons in the jerseys of their respective NBA teams. He followed it up with a tweet that said “PROUD!! We’re just getting started,” and included another image of his sons in their respective uniforms.
Overlooked by many in the hullabaloo following the news of LiAngelo’s deal was the fact that the contract, which contains an Exhibition 10 clause, does not mean the 22-year-old is on an NBA roster. The agreement gets LiAngelo an invitation to the Pistons’ training camp and, if he does not make the roster, an opportunity to sign with Detroit’s G-League team. LiAngelo was on the Oklahoma City Blue G-League team as a practice player last season and did not get any playing time before the pandemic shut down all league activity.
Some of LaVar’s critics, perhaps unaware that the LiAngelo announcement was not as significant as many were making it out to be, instead downplayed the news by drawing another incorrect conclusion. Some social media pooh-poohed the Ball development by claiming that Shawn Holiday was the first to have three sons to play in the NBA after his sons Jrue, Justin and Aaron all entered the league. (These users were certainly overlooking at least one NBA family of four brothers to play in the league. Former center and defensive great Caldwell Jones was joined in the NBA by his younger brothers Major, Wil, and Charles Jones.)
Other social media users responded by saying LaVar deserved to be applauded for helping his sons reach their NBA goals.
“Holidays are awesome brothers, but gotta give credit to lavar having the only father with all children in the L with 2 sons in top 2 and 3 pick in the draft,” wrote user @InTheHouseSport.
Though Lonzo and LaMelo were top draft picks, LiAngelo’s still-incomplete journey to the NBA has been less smooth. LiAngelo was suspended from UCLA’s basketball program indefinitely in 2017 after being involved in a shoplifting scandal in China during a team trip at the start of his freshman season. His father responded by pulling him out of the program entirely.
LiAngelo then joined LaMelo in Lithuania in 2018 where he played one season in the Lithuanian Basketball League before entering the Junior Basketball League, a fledging league started by his father as an alternative to college basketball.
Although LiAngelo hasn’t publicly commented on the deal, in October he expressed his gratitude for his family.
“So blessed to have 2 brothers i swear, thank you momma and pops,” LiAngelo tweeted.