Life as a family's youngest child is filled with ups and downs. Parents often coddle their last born knowing they're the final bird to fly the coop. The youngest becomes a "tag-along" for the older siblings, which isn't always met with applause and fanfare.
I imagine those sentiments ring especially true for LaMelo Ball, the youngest Ball in a family chock-full of pop culture phenomenons. But when it's all said and done, LaMelo could end up being the best of the bunch on the hardwood.
LaMelo arrived on the national stage playing alongside his brothers Lonzo and LiAngelo at Chino Hills High School. He scored 27 points in his first varsity game as a 13-year-old freshman and was later named MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year. The next season, he pulled up and buried a half-court shot two seconds into a game. He followed that viral moment up by scoring 92 points against Los Osos, the second highest single-game total in California high school history.
He spent much of that game cherry-picking and not playing defense.
After being a MaxPreps Sophomore All-American, LaMelo's journey to become a blue-chip high school recruit went haywire. His father LaVar Ball (Don't worry, we'll get to him later) decided to release the Ball's Melo Ball 1 signature shoe through the family's Big Baller Brand company knowing it would threaten LaMelo's NCAA eligibility and end his amateur status.
The basketball shoe was priced at $395. It received backlash for being an exact ripoff of another pair.
Turns out, if you just let your child be themselves and play ball, they'll do just fine.
LaMelo Ball Projected as 2020 NBA Draft's No. 1 Pick
LaMelo Ball going No.1 next year? ?
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) September 24, 2019
Due to his amateur status being revoked, Ball played what would have been his junior year of high school overseas with Prienai of the Lithuanian Basketball League alongside older brother LiAngelo Ball. LaMelo struggled with the adjustment, averaging just 6.5 points in 12.8 minutes of action per game.
One weird stretch with the Los Angeles Ballers in the Junior Basketball Association — an alternative league founded by LaVar that crumbled after one season — saw LaMelo average a triple-double of 39.6 points, 14.6 rebounds and 11.5 assists in eight regular season games. He and LiAngelo, both being named All-Stars (obviously), won the JBA Championship. After that season, he enrolled for his last year of high school at SPIRE Institute in Ohio, a prep school that could allow LaMelo to play despite his pro experience.
LaMelo then signed a two-year deal with the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League in Australia. He was voted NBL Rookie of the Year, opted out of his contract, and returned home to prepare for the upcoming NBA Draft.
Several NBA mock drafts believe the point guard could be the No. 1 overall pick on October 16, 2020.
What Is LaMelo Ball's Height?
LaMelo was listed at 6-foot-7 on the Illawarra Hawks' official roster. He only turns 19 years old on August 22, 2020, so there's a chance he'll grow a little bit taller before he's finished — LaVar and Lonzo are both 6-foot-6, while LiAngelo is a shade shorter at 6-foot-5.
LaMelo's willingness to score off the dribble, ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor, facilitate for his teammates, and rebound on both ends makes him a valuable NBA Draft prospect. His shot selection may be suspect, but that's something to figure out as he matures.
Shooting guard Anthony Edwards (Georgia), center James Wiseman (Memphis), power forward Obi Toppin (Dayton), and international forward Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv) are among this year's marquee prospects. All will have a better idea of where they'll be selected when the NBA Draft Lottery is pulled on August 20.
Regardless where LaMelo gets drafted, prepare for a resurgence of the Ball family name when the 2020-21 season gets underway.
The Ball Family Today
We were first introduced to Lonzo Ball, the family's oldest child. He rose to prominence as a McDonald's All-American, became the No. 3 prospect in America, starred with the UCLA Bruins as a freshman, and became the No. 2 overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. He was packaged and shipped to the New Orleans Pelicans in the Anthony Davis trade, where he started 54 games during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season.
With Lonzo's rise came the "return" of LaVar.
It was impossible to turn on the television or open social media in 2017 and NOT see LaVar Ball. The former college basketball player who famously averaged 2.2 points per game at Washington State made too many outlandish claims to count — He said Lonzo was better than Steph Curry. He claimed his company Big Baller Brand was worth $1 billion. He believed he would "kill Michael Jordan one-on-one" in his prime.
Please collect your thoughts and let that last one sink in.
— Complex (@Complex) August 4, 2017
LiAngelo Ball found success alongside his brothers as Chino Hills, becoming a three-star recruit before signing with UCLA. But before playing a regular season game, the middle Ball was arrested for shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store in Shanghai, China, which sparked national attention from everyone, including President Donald Trump who tweeted that he saved the UCLA players from "10 years in jail."
The middle Ball left UCLA and played stints in Lithuania and the Junior Basketball Association alongside his younger brother; LiAngelo was named JBA Finals MVP. LiAngelo joined the Oklahoma City Blue of the NBA G League but has yet to play a preseason or regular season game after the league's cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 outbreak.
LaVar and Tina Ball met at Cal State Los Angeles, and they raised three sons to work hard, never quit, and win at all costs. The family certainly hasn't shied away from the spotlight, and despite being in the backseat in recent years, a big Ball brother reunion looms in the National Basketball Association's playoffs.
Just don't give me another Ball in the Family show. Please.
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