(Los Angeles, CA) – The Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:10, For the love of money is the root of all evil. And it looks like money could end up being the downfall of the Big Baller Brand.
Love him or hate him, LaVar Ball with his valiant and often boisterous personality has positioned his three sons Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo to be a 1,2,3 punch dynasty in the NBA. He’s groomed his boys to be disciplined in life and the game of basketball and as they transform to current and future NBA stars, the marketing almost works itself.
Who wouldn’t be interested in three brothers, at one point, lined up to dominate High School, College and NBA basketball all at the same time. Fans are banking on decades of the Ball brothers showing out, especially the youngest one. It made perfect financial sense to turn the Ball Brand into a real business.
That’s what family friend Alan Foster said when he saw the attention and publicity surrounding LaVar’s sons and LaVar as he stirred up controversy and interest (often negative) pretty much everywhere he went. Some say that controversy is what’s keeping middle son LiAngelo out of the league right now while others, from the beginning, understood the father of three’s vision and the mechanics of his abrasive ways.
I’ll admit. For the longest, I just wanted pops to be quiet. I was one that was skeptical until I took the time to watch the family’s reality show on Facebook Watch, “Ball in The Family”.
What I saw was a well orchestrated and organized household designed to turn LaVar Ball and Tina Ball’s sons, and any of their friends who were willing to put in the work, into bonafide basketball beasts and respectable young men. LaVar ball doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke and detests tattoos (until his son Gelo got not one, but a few and Lonzo soon followed). And then there’s the dynamic between him and his wife and his commitment to her after she suffered a stroke. It’s safe to say that Tina Ball brings out LaVar’s soft side. Yes, he has one.
With help from both LaVar and Tina’s parents along with his brothers, there’s a strong family support system and everyone plays his or her role in the family business. Alan Foster, whose son befriended Lonzo in middle school, pitched an idea to LaVar that would turn the creation of professional endorsement deals and signature shoes for an NBA rookie on its head. Forget NIKE, forget Adidas, Rebook and any other athletic brand. Let’s do our own. The Big Baller Brand. Subsequently, overpriced shoes, hats, t-shirts and hoodies with triple BBBs emblazoned on them became the gear to have.
They even have a girl’s line.
Ball in The Family started airing on Facebook Watch and the dynasty had officially begun.
At the start of his rookie season, Lonzo Ball hit the court for the Los Angeles Lakers in his own signature shoe created by the Big Baller Brand. Major pop-up shops across the world soon followed and the JBA league which was a direct marketing tool for the Triple BBBs took off as well. Minus Lonzo suffering from continuous ankle problems (which the Lakers reportedly think are caused by his triple BBBs shoes) business was booming.
Alan Foster was leading the way. He served as LaVar’s business partner, advisor and was purported to be the one who organized LaMelo’s move to SPIRE Institute in Ohio and kept close contact with LiAngelo’s agent to keep LaVar abreast on what moves were possible in advance for his middle son. LaVar trusted him blindly to not only manage the family business but some of Lonzo’s personal business as well. Afterall, Foster is a Co-Owner of BBB so it seemed like a win/win.
Alan held a near 17% stake in the company while Lonzo was the majority holder with over 51% percent leaving just over 30% presumably for LaVar, Melo and Gelo to split. I’m pretty sure Lonzo initially funded the Big Baller Brand. He had just signed a 3-year 22 million dollar deal with the Lakers when BBB started.
There was only one instance that appeared to be a red flag but with new startups some bumps in the road are expected. On one episode of Ball In The Family a number of JBA players hadn’t been paid. Deposits were quickly made, but it made you question how money was being transferred for both payments and purchases. It’s no secret that the other triple BBB – The Better Business Bureau isn’t too fond of the Big Baller Brand. There has been a number of complaints from consumers. But again, with startups you expect a few wrinkles.
But what you don’t expect is to have the Co-Owner and friend of the family embezzle $1.5 million dollars in the first year and a half of the company’s existence and Lonzo Ball’s professional career. However, when the Co-Owner is a convicted fraudster……it’s more than plausible. In fact financial misdeeds are not new to Foster.
According to federal records, in 2002, he was sentenced to more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering as part of a scheme that defrauded 70 investors of $4 million. Foster was also ordered to pay $3.7 million in restitution to victims.
Lonzo told ESPN that he believes, “Alan Foster used his access to my business and personal finances to enrich himself. As a result, I have decided to sever all ties with Alan, effective immediately.”
Lonzo also scrubbed all visuals of the Big Baller Brand and logo including the triple BBBs tattoo that he had on his forearm. It’s been replaced by a pair of dice showing allegiance to his two younger brothers with the numbers 1,2,3.
All three of the Ball brothers have stopped following the Big Baller Brand on social media as well. And ..I’m sure that won’t be the end of it.