Who is Ja Morant - controversial Memphis Grizzlies player suspended once again from NBA team?

Despite the hype surrounding his future playing career, it is once again off-court dramas stunting the growth of Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant.

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Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies are dominating the sports news in the United States overnight, but it’s a far cry from discussions about their performance during the NBA Playoffs 2023. Instead, Morant has found himself again suspended from the Memphis Grizzlies organisation for once again taking to social media and bringing the team and, possibly given the NBA’s strict rules on personal appearances, the NBA into disrepute. "We are aware of the social media post involving Ja Morant and are in the process of gathering more information," NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said in a statement Sunday.

Ja Morant has been suspended from “all active duties” according to ESPN, due to a social media video showing Morant armed with a gun which spread, of course, like wildfire over the weekend. The suspension comes only two months after the NBA suspended the player after an almost identical scenario;  Morant left the Grizzlies and entered a counselling program in March after a video showed him holding a gun while intoxicated at a Denver club when the Grizzlies were in town to play the Nuggets

He was eventually suspended for eight games after meeting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who called Morant's conduct "irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous." At the time of the suspension, Morant told ESPN in an interview that he realises "what I have to lose" and said he would try to be "more responsible, more smarter and staying away from all the bad decisions."

It is the latest in a wave of off-court controversies the mercurial talent has found himself embroiled in, despite lofty expectations that the player is set to be “the next big thing,” a heavy mantle to place on a young player already. Late in the 2021-22 season, just as Morant was becoming the NBA's latest superstar, he got into a war of words on Twitter with somebody who appeared to be trolling him over a woman he was dating. Morant responded, in a now-deleted tweet, with the statement: "It's free to see how hollow feels." Many have cited the comment as a reference to shooting the troll in question.

In the 2021-2022 postseason, Morant was accused by the head of security at a Memphis mall of threatening behaviour during an altercation in the parking lot. The guard said that somebody with Morant shoved him in the head. It was reported that Morant's mother got into an altercation with a mall employee and called Morant who showed up with "a group of as many as nine other people." No charges were filed in relation to the incident.

But four days later, he was accused of beating up a teenager. During an off-season pickup basketball game at Morant's house last July, a 17-year-old accused Morant of attacking him after a verbal altercation, according to court records obtained by TMZ. The teen told the police he accidentally hit Morant in the face with the basketball during the argument, which led Morant to punch the boy, knocking him to the ground, and then repeatedly hit him with the help of another man.

The local district attorney chose not to charge Morant over the incident, but the teen later filed a lawsuit against Morant, according to TMZ. Morant said he was acting in self-defence.

It’s been a rocky road for one of the NBA’s bright young hopes, in an era where Lebron James is looking to slow down and pass the mantle off to someone else. But how did Morant emerge from college basketball to become the bright, yet mercurial talent that he is? 

Who is Ja Morant?

Ja Morant was the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft (Credit: Getty Images)Ja Morant was the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft (Credit: Getty Images)
Ja Morant was the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft (Credit: Getty Images)

Ja Morant, born on August 10, 1999, is an American professional basketball player known for his electrifying style of play and remarkable athleticism. Hailing from Dalzell, South Carolina, Morant rose to prominence during his college basketball career at Murray State University.

Morant's journey to basketball stardom began in high school, where he displayed exceptional skills on the court. As a standout point guard, he attracted attention from college recruiters and ultimately chose Murray State to further develop his game.

During his time at Murray State, Morant quickly became a force to be reckoned with. He showcased incredible court vision, lightning-fast speed, and impressive dunking abilities. In the 2018-2019 season, Morant captivated the basketball world with his exceptional performances, leading the nation in assists and becoming a dominant scorer. His remarkable play earned him numerous accolades, including the prestigious NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Triple-Double award.

In 2019, Morant declared for the NBA Draft and was selected as the second overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies. Stepping onto the professional stage, he wasted no time making an impact. Morant's dynamic playing style and ability to finish at the rim with authority quickly earned him a reputation as one of the most exciting young players in the league - and as such, a level of scrutiny placed upon him and his social media interactions.