Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant was accused of repeatedly punching a teenage boy in the head and threatening him with a gun last summer, according to Memphis police records acquired by the Washington Post.
The alleged incident reportedly came four days after another incident in which Morant allegedly threatened the head of security at a Memphis mall. Both allegations are emerging about a month after several of Morant's acquaintances allegedly threatened and harassed Indiana Pacers staffers with a red laser.
In the incident involving the teenage boy, the 17-year-old reportedly told police Morant, who turned 23 last August, punched him 12 or 13 times during a pickup basketball game at the point guard's house. He claimed Morant and a friend hit him so hard it left a "large knot" on the side of his head, which police observed themselves.
The teenager also reportedly told Shelby County Sheriff’s Office detectives that after the fight, Morant went into his house and re-emerged with his hand on a gun visible in the waistband of his paints.
Morant reportedly told police he had been acting in self-defense, admitting "I swung first" but believing the boy was the aggressor because he threw a ball at Morant's head then stepped up to him pulling up his pants. The boy, however, alleged that he was checking the ball back to Morant, who had thrown the ball hard at him first, and the ball slipped through Morant's fingers.
Morant also reportedly claimed the boy shouted “I’m gonna come back and light this place up like fireworks,” and filed his own police report weeks later, saying the boy threatened his family.
Local prosecutors reportedly reviewed the case and declined to file charges, with a Shelby County District Attorney spokesperson saying the office had “decided that there was not enough evidence to proceed with a case.”
Ja Morant mall incident reportedly started with mother's dispute at a Finish Line
In the mall incident, Morant was alleged to have threatened the head of security during an altercation in the parking lot, with a member of Morant's group allegedly shoving him in the head. No arrests were made.
The incident allegedly occurred after Morant’s mother got into a dispute with an employee at a Finish Line store, then called Morant, who arrived to the scene with as many as nine other people. The group allegedly refused to leave when confronted by the head of security, leading to the shove.
As the group left, the guard reportedly alleged Morant said, "Let me find out what time he gets off."
Ja Morant's agent calls report 'unsubstantiated gossip'
Morant's agent responded to the allegations with a statement to the Post claiming the boy and his mother to be attacking Morant for their own financial gain, as the boy's family filed a lawsuit against the player earlier this year:
In a statement, Morant’s agent, Jim Tanner, characterized the allegations as “unsubstantiated rumors and gossip are being put out by people motivated to tear Ja down and tarnish his reputation for their own financial gain.”
“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,” Tanner said. The incident with the teenage boy, Tanner said, “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.”
The Grizzlies reportedly declined comment, while an NBA spokesperson said the league “takes allegations of inappropriate conduct very seriously.”
Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins also declined comment, but indicated support for Morant:
"I'm not going to comment whatsoever. I'll talk to him tomorrow.I'm going to make sure he knows he's cared for going forward."
Troubling allegations against Ja Morant, one of the NBA's rising stars
Since he entered the NBA, Morant has gained fame as a dynamic talent who regularly goes viral with highlight-reel dunks. He is the clear star of the Grizzlies, who are on track to make the playoffs for a third straight year.
That's what made the alleged incident involving the Pacers earlier this year so troubling. Morant's group was alleged to have "aggressively confronted" a member of the Pacers' traveling party after a Jan. 29 game. Later, someone in Morant's SUV allegedly trained a red laser on the staffers as it drove by slowly.
A Pacers security guard reportedly said, "That's 100 percent a gun" about the laser, and the incident left one person involved saying they "felt we were in grave danger."
The NBA later investigated the incident and banned certain people involved from attending games at the FedExForum, but said it could not corroborate any threats with a weapon.