Ja Morant, one of basketball’s brightest young stars and a starting guard in the recent NBA All-Star Game, has been accused of both beating up a 17-year-old boy and threatening a mall security guard during separate incidents that occurred in July 2022.
While the Memphis Grizzlies star’s alleged fight with the teenager during a pickup basketball game was previously reported — the boy and his mother sued Morant in Jan. 2023, at which point the incident became widely known — the Washington Post shared new details culled from police interviews, including a claim that Morant threatened the teenager with a gun following the physical altercation.
A week prior to that incident, however, Memphis Police were called to a nearby mall in July 2022 after Morant and a group of nine people attempted to confront an employee at a Finish Line sporting goods store who had some sort of dispute with Morant’s mother. When Morant and his group arrived, they were interceded by mall security guards, who in turn had a “verbal confrontation” that turned physical with Morant’s group.
According to the Washington Post, the police report states that “as the group was leaving the premises… Ja Morant said, ‘Let me find out what time he gets off,’” which the security guard perceived was a threat. However, no further encounters took place, and no arrests were made.
Two weeks later, the incident between Morant and the 17-year-old boy allegedly took place during a pickup game on a court outside Morant’s Memphis mansion. With tempers flaring between Morant and the teenager — a local high-school player — Morant threw the ball hard at the teen to “check” the ball, with the teen throwing it hard back, according to the report. However, the ball “slipped through Morant’s hands” and hit the Memphis Grizzlies star in the chin.
Morant then put his chin into the boy’s shoulder, asked a friend “Do I do it to him?” and then allegedly punched the boy in the face, forcing him to the ground. Morant and his friend then allegedly pummeled the teenager with over a dozen punches. When interviewed by police after the incident, Morant admitted, “I swung first.”
That altercation was in the lawsuit filed against Morant; what was left out of the lawsuit — but mentioned in the police interviews — is the claim that Morant went back into his house and then “came out with a gun.” While Morant didn’t pull the gun on the teen, he had his hand on the firearm, the teenager told police. Morant didn’t deny “brandishing” a weapon at the time of his police interview. Witnesses, however, told police that the teenager “squared up” to fight Morant after the ball-throwing incident, and didn’t mention the gun. No charges were filed against Morant.
Two weeks later, the Morant family filed a police report against the boy, alleging that he threatened to “come back and light this place up like fireworks,” which they perceived as a threat of further violence.
Both incidents in the Washington Post report came months before The Athletic reported that members of Morant’s entourage had a heated exchange with players on the Indiana Pacers during and following a game against the Memphis Grizzlies. As the Pacers loaded up onto their team bus postgame, an SUV that reportedly carried Morant drove past and put a red laser on members of the Indiana team, with one Pacers’ security person stating at the time “That’s 100 percent a gun.” However, the NBA — after reviewing video footage — could not corroborate the allegation, and no punishment was given.
In a statement to the Washington Post, Morant’s agent Jim Tanner called the allegations “unsubstantiated rumors and gossip” that were “put out by people motivated to tear Ja down and tarnish his reputation for their own financial gain.”
“Any and every allegation involving a firearm has been fully investigated and could not be corroborated. This includes the NBA investigation last month, in which they found no evidence,” Tanner said, adding that the confrontation with the teenager “was purely self-defense. Again, after this was fully investigated by law enforcement, they came to the decision not to charge Ja with any crime.”
The allegations against Morant come that same day as the star guard became the face of anew marketing campaign by energy drink company Powerade.