Lavar Ball: Redefining the “Black Father”

(Image Courtesy of: Richard Mackson, USA TODAY Sports)

By: Zach Fulwood

I can honestly say that Lavar Ball entertains me. He doesn’t just entertain me because of the outlandish statements he makes on a consistent basis but also because he refuses to back down off of any of them. He’s become famous for doubling down on the wild comments like projecting his son, Lonzo, to be better than Steph Curry or claiming to be able to beat Michael Jordan one-on-one when they both were in their primes. Pay no attention to the fact that Lavar’s prime consisted of averaging two points at Washington State while Jordan’s prime was filled with championship rings and MVP’s. The point is, he believes it or at least, I think he does. I personally can’t tell if Lavar Ball is the biggest troll in the world who’s just seeking attention or if he is just supremely confident in everything he does. It’s part of the reason why his contributions as a father are hard to measure as good or bad.

On the surface, Lavar Ball is everything society says a Black father is not. He’s remained married to the same woman he had kids with. He’s been a significant part in each of their lives and has been their biggest public supporter. He’s arguably been the driving force behind his son’s Lonzo’s growing popularity. In a vacuum, Lavar ball would appear to be a great father who backs his kids through thick and thin but with all the other antics factored into the equation, the lines begin to become a bit blurred.

On one hand, it seems that Lavar ball is a dedicated father. On the other hand he looks like an opportunist with a loud mouth who takes every opportunity he can to promote himself and his brand. It’s hard to argue with the latter when you consider the fact that he’s selling his son’s signature shoe and slippers online for $495 and $200 respectively when his son has yet to even step foot on an NBA court. He’s even potentially cost his son millions in shoe endorsements because of his refusal to accept anything less than a partnership deal with the top shoe companies out there.

To say that he isn’t looking to build his brand would be a lie because his actions clearly show that he is. Judging by the way his own professional athlete dreams came to a screeching halt, it’s also safe to say that in some form or fashion, he’s living vicariously through his sons. But is that so bad? Truth be told, if you removed the brazen demeanor Lavar Ball displays in practically every interview he does and ignored the outlandish prices of his merchandise, he’s simply your average sports dad who thinks the world of his sons.

For years we’ve heard about how Black fathers need to be more involved in their children’s lives and how too many young Black men are being forced to grow up without a father. Now we have a living, breathing, embodiment of what we want a Black father to be and we somehow find ourselves rejecting his parenting methods and suggesting he take a step back. Sure his ways are a bit unorthodox, his personality is an acquired taste, and his actions could very well come back to hurt his sons’ future earning potential but he’s doing what he feels is best for his sons’.

Is he the “Gold Standard” for Black fathers across the country? Hardly. Does he come across as a sexist human being at times? Absolutely. Are the standards for Black fathers so low that Lavar Ball finds himself as a positive face for Black Fathers? Probably so. He might very well be all of these things but at the very least, he’s an involved father and that in itself runs contrary to the general perception of Black fathers in America. You may not like him as a person or agree with him as a parent but it’s hard to deny him the credit he’s due.

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