How LaMelo Ball made his way around the world and out of the shadow of his dad to become a top pick in the NBA draft

Rick Rycroft/AP ImagesA member of one of basketball’s most eccentric families, LaMelo Ball’s winding journey to the NBA can only be described as unprecedented.
  • LaMelo Ball was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
  • As the youngest of LaVar Ball’s three sons and the younger brother of Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, the sharpshooter and expert passer is a member of one of basketball’s most eccentric families.
  • Here’s the story of LaMelo’s unprecedented journey.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.


LaMelo Ball has been around for what feels like ages at this point.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The now-19-year-old became the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft Wednesday night, but he’s long been famous as a member of one of the most eccentric families in basketball.

Rick Rycroft/AP Images

He’s the youngest son of LaVar Ball, the outspoken founder of Big Baller Brand who has time and time again sparked media storms thanks to his outlandish comments.

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LaMelo’s eldest brother, Lonzo, was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Lonzo now plays point guard for the New Orleans Pelicans.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Their middle brother, LiAngelo, famously gave up his UCLA Bruins scholarship after he was suspended for shoplifting while on a team trip to China.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

He now plays for the Oklahoma City Blue of the NBA G League.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

LaMelo may be the most talented of the Ball brothers on the court, but he’s taken an extremely unorthodox journey to the top of the draft boards.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

He has been playing basketball alongside his brothers — and under the tutelage of his father — ever since he was four years old.

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Maxpreps


Once it was time to compete, he played on the same AAU team as his brothers and faced much older opponents as a result.

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By age 13, he followed his brothers in committing to play college ball for UCLA.

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Source:
CBS


And he began proving his worth as a young star for Chino Hills High School a short while later, starting and dropping 27 points in his first game as a freshman.

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli


Source:
Los Angeles Times


His scoring only became more prolific with time; he once dropped a whopping 92 points in a game during his sophomore season.

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Source:
CBS Sports


Meanwhile, LaVar was busy marketing LaMelo along with his older brothers. Shortly before he’d be a junior in high school, Big Baller Brand dropped a $US400 signature shoe in his honour.


Read More:
LaMelo Ball now has his own $US400 Big Baller Brand shoes raising concerns about college eligibility


LaMelo’s path took a strange turn when, ahead of his junior season, LaVar pulled him out of high school after disputing with the newly-appointed Chino Hills coach.

AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis


Read More:
LaVar Ball is pulling youngest son LaMelo out of high school after disputes with new coach


LaVar intended to homeschool and train LaMelo himself until it was time for him to join the Bruins, but after LiAngelo was suspended from the team, he decided to send his sons overseas to play professionally.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports


Read More:
LaVar Ball reverses course, says youngest son has signed with an agent, ending possibility he would still go to UCLA


Both LaMelo and LiAngelo signed contracts with Prienai of the Lithuanian Basketball League and promptly headed to Europe.

AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis


Read More:
LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball sign underwhelming contracts for a Lithuanian basketball team


They left the team after just four months, and LaMelo had just 6.5 points and 2.4 assists per game in that span.

AP Photo/Liusjenas Kulbis

Source:RealGM, ESPN


Upon returning stateside, LaMelo signed with the Los Angeles Ballers of the Junior Basketball Association — a league of LaVar’s creation touted as a college alternative for young prospects.

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SLAM


Shortly after, the family attempted to reinstate LaMelo’s NCAA eligibility — a long shot at best.

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Read More:
After a bizarre trip to Lithuania and a stint in the JBA, LaMelo Ball intends to play college basketball – here’s why it may be a long shot


Eventually, he headed back to high school at Spire Institute in Ohio.

Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images


Source:
ESPN


Shortly after his senior year came to an end, LaMelo once again committed to play overseas, this time in Australia. He signed a two-year contract with the National Basketball League’s Illawarra Hawks.

Rick Rycroft/AP Images


Source:
ESPN


And though the competition in the NBL was tougher than what he’d seen elsewhere, LaMelo impressed enough to be considered a top prospect for the 2020 NBA Draft.

AP Photo/Rick Rycroft

Though he’s still something of a wildcard, LaMelo’s 6-foot-7 frame and elite passing ability, long-range shooting, and remarkable court vision make him a gamble worth taking, according to NBA scouts.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images


Read More:
Why LaMelo Ball is the most divisive top prospect in recent NBA draft history


And Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets went for it, selecting LaMelo with the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

AP Photo/Chuck Burton

Now check out the rest of the 2020 NBA Draft class — one that’s considered fairly lacklustre compared to years past.

Craig Mitchelldyer/AP Images

The incoming NBA draft class is considered weak, and nobody seems to want the top picks

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