Grizzlies’ Ja Morant testifies about punching teen during a pickup game, which led to lawsuit

Ja Morant testifies about punching teen
Syndication: The Commercial Appeal

NBA player Ja Morant stated in court on Monday that during a pickup game last year, a teenager struck him in the face with a one-handed basketball pass at close range. The Memphis Grizzlies guard then punched the teenager once in the face.

On the witness stand, Ja Morant stated that the teenager gave him a chest bump, balled his fists, and assumed a fighting position. Joshua Holloway filed the case. On July 26, 2022, during a basketball game on a court at the NBA All-Star’s parents’ house in the Memphis area, a small brawl broke out. At the time, Holloway was 17 years old.

The 18-year-old Holloway charges Ja Morant and his close friend Davonte Pack with assault, abuse or neglect, reckless endangerment, and inflicting emotional distress. The 24-year-old Morant said that Pack and he had each punched Holloway once, with Pack’s blow knocking Holloway to the ground.

In a check-ball scenario, Holloway tossed the ball at Ja Morant, striking him in the chin. Morant says he was defending himself. In pickup games, it’s customary for two opposing players to “check,” which is when they transfer the ball to one another and see if their teammates are prepared. This usually happens either before the game begins or after a foul.

The NBA player’s attorneys contend that Tennessee’s “stand your ground” statute, which permits people to use force in certain circumstances when they feel attacked at home, shields Morant from legal consequences. Although the law is utilized in criminal cases, Morant’s attorneys were able to apply it in the civil case and seek to have the lawsuit dismissed after Judge Carol Chumney’s decision last month.

Ja Morant has not been the subject of any criminal charges. In July, Pack was accused of misdemeanor assault; however, the allegation has since been withdrawn.

After a video of him displaying a weapon went viral online, the NBA suspended Morant for the first 25 games of the current season. The suspension ends on December 19. The video, which was uploaded in March following Morant’s completion of an eight-game suspension for another video in which he was seen brandishing a weapon in a Denver-area strip club, features the player sitting in the passenger seat of a car.

Morant apologized for both videos.

Tee Morant, Ja Morant’s father, stated during the hearing on Monday that the family has been inviting friends and young neighborhood basketball players to play on their full-sized home court for years. After the pickup games, the players have dinner prepared by Morant’s parents.

Holloway had become close with the Morants and had received multiple invitations to perform. Ja Morant attested that in his prior visits, the teenager had behaved nicely and shown respect for him and his family.

Holloway had been defending Morant on the day of the fight, and the player was a dominant force on attack, consistently leading his team to victory in intensely competitive games played all day. Ja Morant and Tee Morant started “bickering back and forth,” according to Tee Morant, who said that Holloway seemed frustrated and was pushing him to be tough and “go at Ja.”

Morant role-played the altercation with Holloway’s attorney, Rebecca Adelman, then with his own attorney, Keenan Carter, during his testimony. Basketballs that both attorneys brought to the hearing were used.

Ja Morant stated that to begin a game, he and Holloway were facing each other in a check-ball scenario. In his testimony, Ja Morant stated that Holloway initiated the check by placing the ball on the ground in front of him as opposed to the conventional bounce pass or chest pass.

Morant claimed he rolled the ball back to Holloway after seeing that as a disrespectful gesture. After that, the teenager rolled the ball back to Morant, who grabbed it and passed it to Holloway again, according to Morant.

At that point, Holloway swiftly launched a strong pass with his right arm, striking Morant’s left side of the chin with it. Morant claimed he was taken aback by the hard pass, which hurt, and that he had his hands down.

“What you on?” Morant asked Holloway after he was struck in the face. Morant explained that this term means, “What did you do that for?”

Morant testified that Holloway remained silent and did not offer an apology. After walking over to face each other, the two locked eyes and Holloway shoved Morant’s shoulder, pulled up his shorts by the waist, and balled his fists, which Morant took to mean a fighting position.

I swung first because I thought he was going to hit me, Morant remarked.

Following Morant’s blow to Holloway’s face, Holloway was knocked to the ground by Pack’s blow to the head, according to Morant. Former NBA player Mike Miller escorted Holloway off the floor.

Adelman fired the ball back at Morant, who caught it, and they reenacted the check-ball scenario. Morant then extended his arm to demonstrate how he had punched Holloway, keeping his fist inches from the lawyer’s face, at Adelman’s instruction.

Joshua could have been shoved by you, Adelman added. Hey, man, this isn’t what we do here, leave my property, you could have told him. You could have conversed with him and given him advice.

The question Adelman posed was, “Were these options for you?”

“Yes”, Morant replied.

Adelman questioned Morant later on during her cross-examination, asking if he was worried that Holloway would harm him.

Indeed, he replied.

The hearing continues Tuesday.

Credits: Yahoo Sports

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