Grizzlies star Ja Morant punched teenager during pickup game, exposed gun to him: report
Ja Morant has been accused of a slew of violent incidents last year, including punching a 17-year-old and then had a gun visible in his waistband.
The Memphis Grizzlies superstar admitted to police he “swung first,” but says he acted in self-defense, noting that the boy had become the aggressor by throwing a basketball at Morant's head and lifting up his pants as a sign of “wanting to fight,” according to the Washington Post.
Morant, 23, then told police that the boy said he was “gonna come back and light this place up like fireworks.” Morant then filed a police report about the boy's comment, citing threats made to his family.
The boy reportedly told police he once considered Morant a mentor and had been invited to play pickup games at Morant's residence in the past.
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The two allegedly shared hard passes to one another when checking the ball in, but the boy's pass slipped and hit Morant in the face. That's when Morant put his chin on the boy's shoulder and asked a friend “Do I do it to him?” When the friend replied yes, Morant swung and punched the boy in the jaw.
Morant allegedly punched the boy “12 or 13 times,” and his friends added “four or five” more strikes. However, prosecutors did not file charges, saying there was not enough evidence to go to trial.
Four days prior, Morant allegedly “threatened” the head of security at a Memphis mall, and a member of Morant's group shoved him in the head. The NBA star's mother allegedly got into a dispute at a Finish Line store, who then called her son. He then arrived at the mall with upwards of nine other people.
Morant and his friends apparently refused to follow the security's orders to leave the mall's parking lot. Police arrived, and a “verbal confrontation” followed, along with the shoving of the security director. No arrests were made.
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The new allegations come fresh off a previous controversy involving Morant – the Indiana Pacers claimed that after an altercation between associates of Morant and the Pacers, a red laser was pointed at the team from an SUV that was carrying Morant, which the Pacers believed was a gun.
The NBA investigated the incident and found that no “individual threatened others with a weapon.”
“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,” Morant's agent, Jim Tanner, told The Washington Post, adding that it “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.”
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Morant is averaging 27.2 points, 8.2 assists, and 6.0 rebounds per game for the 37-23 Grizzlies, who are in second place in the Western Conference. He dropped 39 points against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
The Grizzlies and Morant's agency did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital's request for comment.