By Perry Green, AFRO Sports Editorpgreen@afro.com

You can call LaVar Ball a lot of things.

Some folks have described him as “crazy” or “out of his mind.” Some have taken the opposite approach, dubbing him a calculating genius.  Either could apply, given some of the outlandish comments Ball has given the media (all of which he has found a way to benefit and profit substantially from).

But one thing you can’t call LaVar Ball is a bad father. And if I had to make a nomination, I’d argue that LaVar is worthy of Father of the Year.

AFRO Sports editor Perry Green argues LaVar Ball (pictured) is a strong contended for Father of the Year. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Just imagine a man telling his son since he was a toddler that he was going to play for the Los Angeles Lakers and that actually coming to fruition. Imagine that father intentionally creating so much media hype around his son and the rest of his family, that the Lakers had no choice but to draft him, just so they wouldn’t miss out on the instant publicity that the Ball family would offer the struggling franchise.

That’s exactly what LaVar Ball was able to pull off when he literally willed his eldest son dreams into a reality as Lonzo Ball was drafted No. 2 overall by the Lakers in the 2017 NBA Draft.

There are billions of young Black kids who have dreamed, and continue to dream, of making it to the NBA. And while the majority of them fall short, here’s a father who not only encouraged his kid to believe he could defy the odds by becoming one of the few that makes it, but who also personally trained, coached and managed his son every step of the way.

How could anyone hate on that?

A lot of people don’t like LaVar because they think he’s boasts too much about his kids. How dare he say his son is better than Steph Curry when he hasn’t even played a pro game yet, right? Wrong.  What kid wouldn’t want to hear their pops say he’s going to be the best ever at something? Who wouldn’t want their parents believing they can achieve anything, even the rarest feats?

I personally didn’t have a father around. My mom raised me up with a cast of aunts, grandmas and an amazing godmother. Those strong Black women brought me up right, but I’m not afraid to say that I wish I had a father like LaVar around. I once myself had childhood dreams of becoming an NBA baller so I can’t help but imagine what my life would be like if I had LaVar in my ear, pumping me up, making me feel like Michael Jordan better watch out. And that goes beyond basketball. A growing man needs male mentoring and guidance in every aspect of life.

When Lonzo was shopping endorsement deals last year, a lot of people were advising him to just sign with one of the three major shoe companies and be grateful of whatever money they offered. But it was Lonzo’s father who told him to value himself higher and encouraged him to create his own sneaker brand, where he could actually own the rights to the merchandise he endorsed. His youngest son, LaMelo, also part owner of the Big Baller Brand, would eventually become the first ever 16-year-old high school basketball player with his own signature shoe in the same year.

LaVar built a brand around his family that will set them up with great opportunities to create generational wealth. And in the meantime, he’s showing the U.S. exactly what it’s going to take to make the next step towards full social and economical equality: increasing Black ownership.

What more could you ask for in a father?

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor