Ja Morant gun: did NBA star have weapon in Denver nightclub - video and suspension explained

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that Morant’s actions were ‘potentially very dangerous’

Memphis Grizzlies basketball star Ja Morant has been handed an eight-game ban by the NBA without pay following an investigation into a video which appeared to show the basketball player with a gun in a Denver nightclub.

In a statement released via his agent, Jim Tanner, Morant said that he was going to “take time away to get help” before the NBA made its official ruling.

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Morant said: “I take full responsibility for my actions last night. I’m sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire Grizzlies organisation for letting you down. I’m going to take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well being.”

This is what you need to know.

What happened?

Morant was suspended after he live streamed footage of himself during a visit to a stripclub in Denver in which he could be seen flashing a gun.

A statement from the NBA said: “The discipline is in response to Morant’s live streaming of a video on March 4 in which he is holding a firearm in an intoxicated state whilst visiting a Denver area nightclub.”

The NBA described Morant’s actions as being “detrimental to the league”, however it added that following an investigation into the incident, “the league did not conclude that the gun at issue belonged to Morant, was brought by him into the nightclub or was displayed by him beyond a brief period”. It also added that Colorado authorities “did not find sufficient cause to charge Morant with a crime”.

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The Glendale Police Department said: “[The department] was not able to determine that probable cause existed for the filing of any charges. In this case, it should be noted that on the night in question, [police] did not receive any calls for service at the nightclub regarding a weapon of any type.”

Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies handles the ball during the second half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on January 22, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies handles the ball during the second half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on January 22, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies handles the ball during the second half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on January 22, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) | Getty Images

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement: “Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous. It also has serious consequences given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him. He has expressed sincere contrition and remorse for his behaviour.

“Ja has also made it clear to me that he has learned from the incident and that he understands his obligations and responsibility to the Memphis Grizzlies and the broader NBA community extend well beyond his play on the court.”

Morant has been suspended for eight games without pay, however this includes the games that he has already missed as a result of the incident, meaning that he will be eligible to return on Monday 20 March. The Memphis Grizzlies are set to face off against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, but Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said that Morant wasn’t expected to play in the game.

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Who is Ja Morant?

Morant, whose full name is Temetrius Jamal “Ja” Morant, is an American professional basketball player for the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA. He joined the team in 2019 after graduating from Murray State.

Morant was born in South Carolina on 10 August 1999 to parents Tee and Jamie Morant, both of whom had experience playing basketball in college. Growing up, Morant trained in his back garden with his dad playing basketball and he played in the Amateur Athletic Union circuit.

Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies takes a shot during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at FedExForum on February 28, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies takes a shot during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at FedExForum on February 28, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies takes a shot during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at FedExForum on February 28, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Morant attended Crestwood High School and by the time he left he had become the school’s all time leading scorer and bagged South Carolina Class 3A All-State honours in his last two seasons.

He left high school as a three time All Region Most Valuable Player (MVP) and was offered a scholarship to Murray State University and in 2019 was drafted second overall by the Memphis Grizzlies.  He signed a four year contract with the Grizzlies and in October 2019 he made his NBA debut. At the end of the 2019-20 season, Morant was named NBA Rookie of the Year.

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