The story goes that LaVar Ball “pulled” his son, LiAngelo, out of UCLA, but that isn’t true, because that isn’t possible. Because of something called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, UCLA couldn’t so much as allow LaVar Ball to look at LiAngelo’s grades without LiAngelo’s approval.
This is because LiAngelo Ball, 19, is an adult.
Perhaps he did choose to leave UCLA on his own accord, or perhaps he was coerced by his father, but in either case it was his decision to make, same as it was his decision to steal from a department store in China, and wherever his life goes from here will be the result of his choices. Same for the rest of us.
Now, it may well be that it is in LiAngelo’s best interests to do what his father says. There is not a lot of substance to LaVar Ball, but he is a promotional wunderkind who owns a fledgling shoe company. Maybe at 18, without much of an NBA future, you ride that out as far as it’ll go. He’s free to do that.
But he’s also free to do any number of other things that people his age commonly do, such as:
- Join the Army
- Go to college (and not play basketball)
- Get a job at a burrito shop
- Learn a trade
- Take a year to figure out what he wants to do with his life
- Start a YouTube channel
- Sell weed at some Midwestern college where it’s still illegal
- Become a sports blogger
And what can LaVar do about it? He could yell, he could manipulate, he could make all sorts of threats. But he couldn’t stop him, because LiAngelo Ball is an adult, and it’s his life to live.
If LiAngelo Ball signs on with another college basketball team, it will be because that’s what LiAngelo Ball chose to do. But he might not. Maybe his father will make a different suggestion, and maybe LiAngelo will take that suggestion to heart. He can do that if he wants to, or he can not do that, because he is an adult, and that’s what adults do. They make choices. They have to. There is no other option.
We’re all free to listen to LaVar Ball, or not, and that goes for his adult sons, too.