Basketball & Race

What is Lonzo Ball’s race? Is the NBA player mixed race (multi-racial)?

Everybody is aware of the ZO2 Prime shoes by now. The Big Baller Brand’s first basketball shoe grabbed headlines because of of its absurd $495.00 price tag (and its striking resemblance to the Kobe 11 — was it the ZO1 Prime?). But we’re not here to talk about Lonzo Ball’s signature shoe, we’re here to talk about the kid himself and the man behind him.

Lonzo Ball was perhaps the most watched college player in the 2017 NCAA Tournament not only because of his incredible talent for shotmaking and passing, but there was further scrutiny on the Freshman due to the countless outrageous statements that his father LaVar Ball has made over the last year.

He’s since joined the NBA as the #2 overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, joining his hometown Los Angeles Laker team — the same franchise he and his father hoped to play for. That’s been both a blessing and curse in terms of coverage — for everything that Lonzo does well, he’ll get a heap of praise from the Laker fans and media, but if his struggles will also be highlighted, especially in light of his father’s propensity to huff and puff.

Lonzo Ball Better than Curry?

One of LaVar’s more outlandish claims was declaring that his son was already better than Steph Curry. Now don’t laugh please because it wasn’t meant as a joke. Seriously. The elder Ball is dead serious and he reiterated it on national TV.

To the rest of us, it’s laughable. It’s obviously unfair to compare the any college player to the two-time and defending NBA MVP. Steph is one of the top players in the league and Lonzo barely finished his first season playing college ball. No matter how great a prospect is nor how successful a season they had; the level of competition in college isn’t the NBA and it’s not even close.

While 99.99999999999% of us know better than to compare their games, there is a similarity between Lonzo and Steph’s skillset and a resemblance in their skin color.

You know what we mean; we’ve already discussed Steph’s race in a previous post. So we want to take a deeper look into Lonzo’s ethnicity and racial background because yes, people are asking, so let’s get it right. What is his race — is Lonzo Ball background African American or Puerto Rican? Is Lonzo part Caucasian? Does he have any Filipino blood or maybe Lonzo a combination of a few (multi-racial)?

With LaVar on our TVs and Lonzo one of the top NBA prospects going into the NBA draft, these questions are the ones that fans are curious about and will only grow with the focus on the Ball family — let’s be sure people have an understanding and aren’t ignorant to the facts. We’ll take a look at the information out there to answer: What is Lonzo Ball’s Race?

First off, who is LaVar Ball?

As we’ve mentioned, LaVar Ball is the outspoken biological father to three boys that happen to be basketball prodigies Lonzo, LaMelo and LiAngelo in Chino Hills, California.

LaVar is a personal trainer and used to play football for the London Monarchs of the World League of American Football. He was also a practice player for the Carolina Panthers and New York Jets. And yes, let’s not forget he played college ball for Washington State although let’s just not talk about his stats there (more on that later).

Here is his NY Jets free agent bio:

The 6’6 former college basketball player and American Football League player is African-American. There’s not much online regarding his lineage, but according to multiple articles online, there’s little doubt about what LaVar represents:

From The Shadow League:

LaVar is a proud Black man and an even prouder father who takes no shorts when it comes to his sons and their success. In the mold of Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena Williams, LaVar has not only taken control of his children’s futures but has also assumed the role as their spokesman, which includes shifting the spotlight to himself through outlandish and random statements.

And in a Mic article about Black fatherhood, it goes into how LaVar’s (HUGE) presence in his sons’ lives contradicts the myth of absent black fathers.

lonzo ball lakers

“I think there’s a stereotype in the culture at large of the absent black father,” Boyd said in an interview with Mic. “So many stories we hear about athletes have to do with absent black father image, and he’s obviously not absent. He’s very present.”


Lavar and Lonzo Ball mixed race

LaVar Ball may make headlines over and over again because of his ridiculous statements. Like saying that he would’ve killed Michael Jordan one-on-one during his days, that if Charles Barkley thought like him, Barkley would’ve won and NBA title. Or the $1B price tag for his Big Baller Brand. But outside the bluster, he’s a family man through and through.

Say what you will about LaVar Ball. Is he outlandish? Sure. Irritating? Sometimes. But he’s also, by all public accounts, a great dad. He dotes on his sons and relishes any opportunity to talk about his family. In a sport that, 20 years ago, was plagued by stories of absent black fathers, LaVar has become the most recognizable black father in America. And whether you love him or hate him, he’s not going anywhere.

Whether you think it’s for better or for worse, what’s not questionable is how much he cares about his sons’ futures.

Who is Lonzo Ball’s Mom?

Now that we’ve determined that Lonzo’s father is African-American, let’s look at the other half of Lonzo’s bloodline; his mom.

Lonzo and his brothers’ mother is Tina Ball. At 6-1, Tina was a former college basketball player. Tina Ball was born to Bert and Catherine Slatinsky in Florida. With blond hair and blue eyes, Tina is very likely Caucasian.

Little else is known of Tina Ball because unlike the outspoken LaVar, she is a private person. She was active on Twitter up until Feb. 19,  2017 or the day before she reportedly had a medical incident. That’s another story though.

She would go on to meet her future husband while at Cal State-Los Angeles while both played basketball for the school (LaVar had transferred from Washington State) .

In an interview with, LaVar Ball revealed how he met Tina:

“I see this tall girl, very attractive, walking down a hallway and I go, ‘I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’re gonna be doing something. Once that was in her head, I had her. I picked a big girl who was beautiful. A big stallion!”

In another interview with CBS, LaVar talked about having the right set of genes to make a family of basketball players:

“To know we was gonna be playin’ basketball, you gotta have the right genes,” LaVar said. “I had a lot of short cuties, but Tina was tall – wow, ka-boom! So I was, like, ‘Man, you know what? I’m gonna get three boys.’

And so Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo were born. All with unlimited basketball potential and all together what LaVar calls the Big Baller Brand.

So, What is Lonzo Ball’s Race and Ethnicity?

Well the answer to that depends on the context and who you ask. Although LaVar has never said it point blank, he’d probably say Lonzo isn’t white (or Caucasian). After Lonzo and his UCLA Bruins were eliminated in the NCAA 2017 tournament, the elder Ball told the Orange County Register:

“Realistically, you can’t win no championship with three white guys because the foot speed is too slow. I told Lonzo, ‘One of these games you might need to go for 30 or 40 points.’ ”

Obviously, he was referring to TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford and Thomas Welsh; the three ‘white’ starters for UCLA. By process of elimination, LaVar is saying that his son isn’t white, though he’s  not necessarily saying they’re fully-African American, either.

There aren’t any official documents online that shows what exactly Lonzo Ball’s race is. But one thing is for sure, he’s American. And if we go by the race for Americans in the US census, he’s likely a mix of his Caucasian and African American parents — or mixed race / bi-racial. Same with his brothers LaMelo and LiAngelo.

You are allowed to check more than one race to indicate racial mixture. So while we don’t really know the percentages, Lonzo Ball is a bi-racial American. This conclusion might seem obvious to some, but it’s not so common sense to others.


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