You don't really have to be a basketball fan to have an opinion about LaVar Ball at this point. He has been such an overwhelming presence in the media over the last few months that you're almost forced to take a stance on him, unless you just stay off social media altogether. Plenty of people—including some who otherwise root for his son—laugh anytime LaVar sees even a little bit of adversity.
This might shock you, but Lonzo Ball has a different take. With less than a week to go before the 2017 NBA Draft, Lonzo is attempting to change the conversation surrounding his father. First, it was a hilarious ad for Foot Locker that showed he was capable of mocking his dad. Now, he wants the world to see how much he loves and appreciates what his father did to get him to where he is today.
In a letter penned for The Players' Tribune, Lonzo reflected on being pushed by his father to not settle for mediocrity:
Every day, no matter what, you’d take LiAngelo and LaMelo and me around the corner from our house in Chino to run up and down that hill in the heat before bringing us back home to do sit-ups.
You were always out there with us, leading the way. You were there for every step. Pushing, encouraging and refusing to accept anything less than our very best. You never forced me to do any of it. You knew that you never needed to. You understood me.
And when I did need some motivation, you always knew just how to push my buttons. It wasn’t by making me do more reps or anything like that. It just came down to saying something simple like, 'I hope you know that you’re not getting better.' That was all I ever needed to hear from you to make me keep grinding.
Though a lot of people—myself included!—have pined for Ball to put some distance between himself and his dad's ridiculous comments, that's easier said than done for a teenager. LaVar's ridiculous claims aside, Lonzo feels like he owes a lot of his success to his dad, and he's not just going to turn his back on him because other people are mad about his brash personality.
And though publicly they seem like much different people, Lonzo insists the two are much more similar than you might imagine. He claims he has the same bold personality as his father, he just keeps it under the surface a little better:
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.
Lonzo goes on to thank his dad just for being there at all, knowing many kids grow up without a father figure in their lives. Regardless of what you think about the Ball family's methods, it's clear that they love and respect one another, despite some obvious contrasts in how they carry themselves.
You can read the full Players' Tribune piece here, and if you're fortunate enough to have your dad in your life, maybe you can use this as inspiration to forgive him for some of his more embarrassing traits. At the very least, you get to deal with them in a more private setting.