LaVar Ball might be one of the most controversial figures in the media right now. That’s a pretty heavy statement, considering the political and socio-economic climate in America currently. This obnoxious Black guy from South LA is getting just as much press as the President. While everything about him has grown repugnant to me, I can’t help but admire his marketing prowess. LaVar only managed to average 2 points and 2 rebounds a game in college basketball, a pitiful performance. He would go on to play football for Long Beach City College and sign with the New York Jets in the early 90s. Ball failed at yet another sport though, and left the NFL after sitting on the practice squad for both the Jets and Panthers. Failure haunted LaVar in several aspects of his life, as he drifted between basketball and football, searching for a lane to excel in.

LaVar met his wife Tina in college, and she may be the only person on this planet that can control him. Rewind the clocks back to when Lonzo Ball, now a professional NBA player for the Lakers, played for UCLA. LaVar predicted his son would lead UCLA all the way to the championship, which never came to fruition. In fact, LaVar didn’t even attend UCLA’s 86-75 loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16. He opted to stay in California, where his wife was recovering from a stroke that affected her ability to speak. Tina also played basketball in college, a tall, strong woman who I suspect could destroy her husband one-on-one. The loud-mouthed, arrogant, attention-seeking LaVar Ball missed his son’s playoff game to care for his wife. The realization that LaVar cared about someone other than himself made me think, “hey, maybe this guy isn’t as vile as he seems.”

As obnoxious as Ball is, I can’t help but admire his support for his family. There are few things on this planet more disgusting than a deadbeat father. A man who plants his seeds, and then leaves a woman to raise his child, alone. Sickening. LaVar is the opposite of a deadbeat father. In fact, if there was a scale of parenthood where “deadbeat dad” was the lowest point on the spectrum, “LaVar Ball” would fall as far on the opposite side of that chart as possible. He has his childrens' backs a million percent. Wouldn’t you want your father to ride-or-die for you? Obviously, Lonzo isn’t as good as Steph Curry or Magic Johnson, but LaVar refuses to acknowledge those facts. In LaVar’s mind, his son can outplay the whole world with one hand tied behind his back. Ignorant, idiotic, impossible… call it what you want, he rides for his kids. I’ll take that over the opposite any day.

Big Baller Brand, LaVar’s clothing apparel company, continues to make headlines. The global marketing director at Nike has slammed LaVar’s overpriced shoes, claiming that Ball is “the worse thing to happen to basketball in the last hundred years.” I don’t care how harsh the criticism is, if the marketing director at Nike is speaking about you, you’re doing something right. I have countless friends that wish that Nike even knew they existed. Of course, $495 dollar sneakers are ridiculously expensive, but Ball never planned on selling millions of his ZO2 shoes. He was relying on the media losing their minds over the price point, and giving him millions of dollars worth of free press in response. I will bet you anything, in a year his sneakers will drop in price significantly, down to the price point he originally planned it to be. Think of it like negotiating a contract, you shoot for a high number and work down to the number you actually want. LaVar is using shock tactics to stir up the media, which has worked flawlessly, to gain promotion for his brand. They say no publicity is bad publicity, right?

While you won’t catch me in any Big Baller Brand apparel (whenever I see LaVar’s face on television I change the channel), I admire the man’s come-up. He was a failure at sports, so maybe he is living vicariously through his children. Maybe he’s just an insecure loud-mouthed product of the social media age that is trolling the nation while making millions. Whatever his reasons, LaVar is a man who takes care of his family. He’s almost timid when speaking about the health of his wife, a characteristic he doesn’t often exhibit. All three of his sons will be millionaires, and the boy from South Los Angeles has grown up to be one of the most polarizing figures in the media. He’s a father whose loud mouth may rub people the wrong way, but his family will be set for the rest of their lives. I respect that.