NBA star Ja Morant accused of beating teenager with gun flashing


Yes Morant is among the brightest young stars in the NBA, with a new signature Nike shoe, a best-selling jersey and a team, the Memphis Grizzlies, poised for a deep postseason run. But in a series of incidents dating back to last summer, Morant and people close to him have been accused of threatening and even violent behavior, according to previously unreported police documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Last summer, in a previously unreported encounter, the head of security at a Memphis mall told police that Morant “threatened” him during an argument in the parking lot, scaring him enough to file a police report. A member of Morant’s group pushed the director in the head, he told police. No arrests were made, records show.

Four days later, Morant repeatedly hit a teenage boy in the head during a pickup basketball game at Morant’s home, the boy told police. Morant and his friend beat the 17-year-old so hard they knocked him to the ground and left him with a “large knot” on the side of his head, according to a police report written by deputies who said they observed the boy’s injuries.

The teenager told Shelby County Sheriff’s Office detectives that after the fight, Morant went into his house and re-emerged with a gun visible in his waistband and his hand on the weapon, according to police interviews obtained by The Post, which have not been previously reported.

In an interview with police, Morant said he acted in self-defense. “I swung first,” he told investigators, but he believed the boy had been the aggressor because he threw a ball at Morant’s head and then walked toward him and pulled up his pants. “The bump, to me, was the first hit,” Morant told police.

During the interview, detectives mentioned the boy’s claim that Morant flashed a gun, but did not ask Morant if it was true.

Morant told police that when the boy left, he yelled, “I’m coming back and lighting this place up like fireworks.” Weeks after the incident, according to records obtained by The Post, Morant filed a police report about the boy’s comment, saying the teenager had threatened his family.

Prosecutors reviewed the case but declined to file charges, the Shelby County District Attorney said in a statement. The office “determined there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a case,” a spokesperson said.

Neither incident was made public at the time. Morant, 23, started this season strong, starting in the final All-Star Game and leading the Grizzlies to the second-best record in the Western Conference. But he was drawn into public controversy in recent weeks as the NBA investigated an allegation that someone in Morant’s vehicle pointed the laser sight of a gun at members of the Indiana Pacers organization.

In a statement, Morant’s agent, Jim Tanner, characterized the claims as “baseless rumors and gossip” and said they were “spurred by people motivated to tear Ja down and tarnish his reputation for their own financial gain.” The boy and his mother filed a lawsuit against Morant over the incident, his family attorney confirmed. The existence of the suit, which is under seal, was reported earlier this year by TMZ.

“Any allegation involving a firearm has been fully investigated and could not be confirmed. This includes the NBA investigation last month, where they found no evidence, Tanner said. The incident with the teenage boy, Tanner said, “was pure self-defense. Again, after this was fully investigated by police, they came to the decision not to charge Ja with any crime.”

The Grizzlies declined to comment. An NBA spokesperson said the league “takes allegations of inappropriate behavior very seriously.” Teams are required to report “incidents involving players and law enforcement,” the spokesman said, but he would not say whether the Grizzlies had reported any of the July 2022 incidents or whether the NBA had investigated.

The league’s investigation into the allegation involving the Pacers “did not confirm that any individual threatened others with a weapon,” the spokesperson said.

Morant is known for high-flying dunks, a thirst for trash talk and a tight-knit relationship with his father Tee, who sits courtside at many games. His family has become so much a part of Morant’s brand that Tee Morant narrated the commercial that launched his son’s latest major brand deal, with Powerade.

Yes Morant was one of the stars of last year’s playoffs before the Grizzlies lost a heated series with the eventual champion Golden State Warriors. Two months after the loss to Golden State, Morant’s mother was in a Finish Line shoe store at a Memphis mall when she got into a dispute with a store clerk, according to a Memphis Police report obtained by The Post. She called Morant, who arrived shortly after with a group of nine other people.

Confronted by the director of mall security, Morant and his friends refused the security guard’s demands to leave the mall parking lot. The police arrived and a “verbal confrontation” escalated, the report says, until someone in the group allegedly pushed the security director in the head.

“As the group left the premises … Ja Morant said, ‘Let me find out when he gets off,'” police wrote in the report.

The guard wanted to file a report, police wrote, “because he felt threatened by the statement made by Ja Morant” and had been assaulted by the person who had pushed him. The “disturbing parties left the scene” and no arrests were made.

The Grizzlies, the NBA and Morant’s agent did not respond to questions about the incident. The security guard refused to comment.

Less than a week later, Morant hosted, as he often did, an evening basketball game at his family’s home, a sprawling brick mansion on the outskirts of Memphis. His parents and sister were there, as was Mike Miller, the former NBA player.

Among the players on the fenced field was a talented local high school student who, he would later tell police, considered Morant a mentor. Although police records identify the boy, The Post is not naming him to protect the privacy of a juvenile.

He had been invited to the games before, the 17-year-old said in the police interview, but he was still captivated by Morant: “He did some amazing things, and I was just impressed,” the teenager told the police. “I’m playing against an all-star, you know?”

The teenager drew the task of guarding one of the world’s most electric goalscorers. When Morant threw the ball hard at the boy’s chest as he tried to check it in, the boy threw it back just as hard. The ball “slipped through (Morant’s) hands,” the teenager said, and it hit Morant’s chin.

The teenager told police Morant then put his chin on the boy’s shoulder and asked his friend, “Am I doing that to him?” The friend replied, “Yes, do it.”

Morant then punched the boy in his jaw, the boy told police, and without warning, the friend punched him on the other side. “I fell to the ground and tried to cover my face so I wouldn’t get hit in the face,” the boy told police. “I got, started getting hit, hit my head, everything else.”

“Yeah hit me 12 to 13 times,” the boy said, adding that his friend hit him four or five times. When police asked the boy how hard the punches landed, he compared them to an MMA fight.

After the men were pulled off him, the boy told police, Morant went inside and the boy got up to leave. As the boy was going to his car, he said, Morant “came out with his gun.” It was tucked into his pants, the boy said, and although he didn’t pull it out, the boy said he saw Morant put his hand on it.

“His dad was yelling at him, like, ‘No, no, no. Return. Go back to the house,” the boy told police.

In the interview with Morant, transcripts show, police addressed the boy’s claim that Morant had come out of the house and “waved” the gun, but did not directly ask him if that happened. Neither Morant nor his lawyers denied the claim at the time, the records show. Miller, Morant’s father and several other people who said they were there that day did not respond to messages seeking comment.

The day of the argument, the boy’s mother filed a police report and had him checked out by paramedics. She took him to the hospital the next day, she told police, after he had trouble sleeping that night.

Police spoke with Morant in early September, two weeks after they recorded a statement from the boy, the records show. Morant said the boy had been the aggressor because he threw the ball at Morant’s head, tried to hit him with it, and took a step toward Morant and pulled up his pants, which Morant took as a sign that the boy “wanted to fight.”

“Like fine, now I have to protect myself, then,” Morant explained to police. When a detective asked him if the boy had swung at him, Morant said, “I swung first,” then added, “The ball was the first swing for me.”

Morant’s attorneys produced sworn statements from witnesses who, in similar language, alleged that the boy had thrown the ball at Morant and “didn’t apologize” after it hit him, and that he “squared up” Morant’s direction. The witnesses all said that Morant had hit the boy first. Neither of them mentioned a gun.

According to the police report, when investigators tried to interview the witnesses themselves, they either did not show up or were otherwise unavailable.

Almost two weeks after the argument, on August 8, Morant and his family filed a police report about the boy who allegedly said he would “come back and light this place up like fireworks.” In that police report, Morant and several family members told police they believed the boy would come back and shoot them, “putting (Ja) Morant and his family in fear.”

The teenager and his mother sued Morant and his longtime friend, Davonte Pack, in September, according to Rebecca Adelman, the family’s attorney in the case. The trial, which is ongoing, was immediately sealed, hiding it from the public. The suit was first reported by TMZ in January. Adelman declined to make the teenager available for an interview.

In an interview with police, a transcript shows, one of Morant’s lawyers, who did not respond to a request for comment from The Post, said the boy’s mother had demanded millions of dollars from Morant after the incident. “The first thing we got was a claim for $20 million. This is a shake-up, he said. The boy’s mother previously filed a lawsuit that was ultimately dismissed, court records show, including a discrimination lawsuit against the city’s fire department and a lawsuit against her children’s school district after she said they were bullied on a school bus.

The police report does not mention Morant’s “best friend,” who the boy said had punched him on the other side of the jaw. But a person familiar with the lawsuit, who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was under seal, said the friend was Pack, a childhood friend of the Morants who is also named in the family’s lawsuit. Pack could not be reached for comment.

Pack had been a staple at Grizzlies games, often sitting next to Morant’s father. After Morant found himself in the middle of an altercation during a game against the Pacers in January, the Pack stood and walked onto the court himself.

Pack yelled expletives at Pacers players, the Athletic reported, until an official intervened and Pack was escorted off the floor. Later that evening, the Athletic reported, the altercation continued outside the arena, where members of Morant’s entourage confronted members of the Pacers near the team’s bus. After Morant got into an SUV, a red laser was trained on members of the team from inside the car, the Athletic reported, prompting a member of the Pacers’ security team to say, “That’s 100 percent a gun.”

The NBA investigated, including by reviewing security footage, and said it “could not confirm that anyone threatened others with a weapon.”

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