Earlier this year, Ja Morant decided to give the athletic programs at four schools an early chance to wear his new line of shoes.
The NBA star, currently serving a 25-game suspension, provided his unreleased Nike Ja 1's to colleges close to his heart. He sent the gifts to Murray State, which is his alma mater; Radford, where former Murray State assistant Shane Nichols is now coaching; and Memphis, the school based in his NBA hometown.
The fourth school, Mississippi Valley State, got a special edition of the shoe, in a colorway that wasn't available to the public. Why the special treatment for the HBCU (historically black college/university) that didn't cross Morant's path during his college playing career? His sister, Teniya, is a freshman on the Delta Devilettes team this season.
Ja is six years older than his sister, who also goes by Niya. She bears a family resemblance to him, both in her features and her style on the court, leading some on social media to react to her high school highlight videos with comments such as, "That's Ja in a wig!"
Niya, a 5-foot-3 point guard, averaged 11.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals as a senior for Houston High School, where she had a reputation for toughness and energy on the court.
— Courtside Films (@CourtsideFilms) January 13, 2023
Morant chose MVSU over Grambling. She went deep into her senior season before getting her first scholarship offer, similar to her older brother's own journey from unheralded recruit to 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year.
I am extremely blessed to say I have received my first D1 Offer from Mississippi Valley State ? Very Thankful ! #onlyupfromhere
— Teniya Morant (@niyamorant1) January 30, 2023
While Ja has been busy making his way in the NBA, he also has been extremely supportive of his sister's basketball journey. In addition to the shoe gift, he's also been a surprise visitor to several of her games, including her senior day ceremony.
Ja Morant made a very important appearance on his off day: He stopped by Houston High for his sister Teniya's (@niyamorant1) senior night.
Cool to see #12 be there for her on what was clearly an emotional night for her. Good stuff. pic.twitter.com/DiixqDS4VX
— Matt Infield (@Matt_Infield) February 4, 2023
He also showed up with his daughter to root for Niya at her Queen of the Court competition at an Overtime Elite Takeover event. (The crown was won by another player with NBA pedigree, Izela Arenas, daughter of former All-Star Gilbert Arenas.)
— Overtime (@overtime) May 6, 2023
While Ja serves his suspension (for brandishing a gun on social media), fans looking for their Morant fix might tune in to MVSU women's games to watch Niya in action, but they're bound for disappointment. The school plans to redshirt her this season as it tries to build for the future after a two-win 2022-23 season. She hasn't played in any of the team's exhibitions or the first two regular season games, despite lopsided scores that saw walk-ons finish up each game. Teniya Morant has been on the bench, in uniform, for each game — and, like her teammates, she's also been wearing some hot new kicks.
Want More Sports News?
Get the biggest and best sports news sent directly to your inbox.