Yo will hit Ja Morant’s messy story shortly. But first, a personal story. I grew up in South Dallas. Our house was repeatedly broken into. Drive-bys were a regular occurrence. I was mugged often, walking to and from school. Escaping that level of purgatory for the comforts of Central American capitalism was no small feat. Many of my friends were involved in gangs. I never joined, I was too scared. My parents kept me off the streets as best they could, while protecting him and his family from the terrors outside our door. He had several weapons. A Glock rested inside her dresser next to the bed. A shotgun was on top of a stack of Maxim magazines on top of the cabinet.

Most people in my neighborhood had guns – many on the left act like the only pro-gun people in the US are rednecks preparing for a race war. But the Black and Latino communities also have many advocates for the right to bear arms. They’re not members of the NRA and they don’t march in Maga hats to defend gun laws after school shootings, but they do exist. As an adult still living in the Texas barrio, albeit gentrified, I still keep a shotgun in my closet. Growing up in poverty is a disease that is never fully cured. I only touched my gun once, when I moved home. I hope it stays that way. I don’t draw my gun. And if I did, it wouldn’t be on Instagram Live, something Morant, a fabulously talented young man nba player, he’s done it… twice.

The latest incident, and there has been many disturbing stories around Morant came Sunday when a video surfaced of him riding in a car with friends, rapping along with NBA YoungBoy. So far, so innocent. But at one point, Morant is seen holding a gun. Shortly thereafter, the Memphis Grizzlies announced that they had suspended Morant from all basketball-related activities. His lucrative endorsement deals, including one with Nike, could be in jeopardy and his previous suspension for another gun-related incident in March. It might as well have cost him a $40 million payday.. There could be a case where he violated the NBA’s CBA, which prohibits players from possessing a firearm “of any kind” in numerous settings. It also requires players to notify their teams of firearms and provide proof of registration, giving NBA Commissioner Adam Silver the authority to fine and suspend players for “conduct detrimental to the Association.” ”.

But since Tennessee is an open state, Morant did not do anything illegal under state law. And many have rightly pointed out the hypocrisy of the right-wing media attacking Morant without condemning white Republicans who show off their guns in public (sometimes with children in tow). Clearly, the idea of ​​a black man owning or brandishing a gun, regardless of background or status, is a terrifying idea for everyone, regardless of his political affiliation.

There are other reasons to give Morant some slack. In some of the reports of his behavior, alcohol abuse has been mentioned. In an ESPN interview in March With Jalen Rose, who now looks like a PR stunt, she said she deals with anxiety and stress. Essentially, she linked his recent behavior to these mental and emotional issues. I empathized with Morant as I too suffer from extreme anxiety and depression. I am on medication, thankfully, as mental problems are genetically linked to both sides of my family history. Next month will be a year of sobriety. I had to eliminate alcohol from my life to regain control over my vices and addictions. It would be understandable if Morant also suffers from anxiety. Sure, he has millions of dollars, but he also has intense media scrutiny as arguably the best young American player in a league where many of the biggest stars are now from outside the United States (only one player on the All-American first team). -NBA this year is from the United States).

I also know where Morant came from. He grew up in a stable two-parent home in Sumter, South Carolina: his father is a former basketball player who taught his son the game. He is honored that his father cheers for him from the floor seats at every home game. I know how meaningful it can be since my dad watches every episode of the Knicks podcast that I co-host. He also reads all the NBA articles I write. But Sumter, like South Dallas, isn’t exactly Bel Air. Your violent crime rate is twice the national averageand median household income it’s less than two-thirds of the US median. Fortunately, Morant stayed away from violence and the legal system growing up and was ultimately selected No. 3 by the Grizzlies in the 2019 draft.

Having said all this, it is obvious that Morant is doing something wrong. It can even be said that, at 23, she is acting her age. He had already been suspended by the NBA for displaying a weapon on Instagram Live and soon decided to do it again. But there are many, many NBA players who grew up in more difficult circumstances than Morant: LeBron James among them – and I have stayed out of any trouble.

Like many young people in the US, Morant equates being armed with being tough. Especially when you haven’t seen the effects of what a weapon can do in person, towards friends and even enemies: it just becomes a symbol instead of a weapon. If anyone ran into Morant, he would surely have an army of friends and hangers-on to defend him. He wouldn’t even have to pull the trigger, if it came to that. That is the “luxury” of having people ride for you. But Morant is putting himself and those around him in danger. Some of the friends I grew up with are dead from gang violence. Others still maintain the lifestyle they started when they were 17 years old and rot in cyclical violence 20 years later. Many are hooked on drugs and broke. Some made it out, but not many. I count my blessings to be one of them.

The image that Morant is projecting to his followers and fans is that of someone on the brink of violence. It is an image that does not come from scars of past self-defense. He’s not carrying on a gang legacy. There is nothing illegal about enjoying a night out with friends at the strip club or riding with your friends in a car with an open gun. But in the context of his behavior in recent months, it’s not about what is or isn’t legal. It’s about optics. Especially the optics that Morant propagates of masculinity, toughness and use of weapons. And what those who look see, especially the youngest and most vulnerable.


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