Basketball & Race, Basketball Racism

What is Zach LaVine’s racial background — is he mixed-race?


If you are not a West Coast basketball fan or Slam Dunk Contest fanatic, then you may not know who Zach LaVine is. Although he’s won the Dunk contest twice already in his short career, LaVine is quietly become one of the hottest young players especially since he started wearing a Chicago Bulls jersey after being traded to the Windy City before the 2017-18 NBA season.

After a stellar High School basketball career in Washington state, LaVine went on to play one season at U.C.L.A. before being taken with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He would be only the fourth player in NBA history to repeat as the Dunk Contest champion in back-to-back years.

During his freshman season at UCLA, LaVine would excel as the team’s “Sixth Man” and would remind fans of another atheltic Bruin Russell Westbrook early in his career. LaVine’s draft stock quickly rose, and despite averaging only 9.4 PPG and 1.8 APG, he would be voted onto the All PAC-12 freshman team.

LaVine made himself eligible for the 2014 NBA Draft, his NBA potential enticed the Minnesota Timberwolves to pick him with the 13th pick. He spent three years in Minnesota before being traded to the Chicago Bulls ahead of the 2017-18 season.

Related: Check out Zach LaVine’s NBA jerseys

With the Minnesota Timberwolves and Chicago Bulls, Zach LaVine has made big news with his dunking ability and on-court performance, fans want to know just about every detail they can about him.

When was Zach LaVine born? Who does he date? When is his birthday? And of course, What is Zach LaVine’s race and ethnicity— specifically, fans are curious whether Zach LaVine is White, Black, Latino, or even Filipino.

Yes, It’s Awkward to Ask about a Player’s Race

Despite some of the big progress we have made in the United States when it comes to race, there can be at times a caustic environment when discussing race and race relations. When you add in the fact that many neighborhoods and cities remain just as segregated as they were 50 years ago, many NBA fans and others simply do not have a big cultural understanding that exists in Europe and other locations throughout the world.

Zach LaVine is yet another NBA star that finds his roots from a multicultural background that can help us continue to the dialogue regarding race in a positive way. Like Devin Booker, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson, we can gain some insights on his race by taking a look at his mom and dad’s background.

Who is Zach LaVine’s Father?

LaVine’s father is Paul LaVine, who was a professional athlete who played football in the USFL (United States Football league and NFL (National Football League).

LaVine’s father’s ethnic background is African-American. While LaVine was growing up, Paul would have him focus on emulating the NBA Three-Point Shootout, and would encourage him to play basketball after Zach became a big fan watching Michael Jordan in the original Space Jam.

By the time Zach would hit his junior year, he would grow to 6’3” tall and would practice dunking in his backyard after going through the drills that his dad had him complete every day. By the time he was in college, Zach would grow to a height of 6’5”. Of note, his dad is only 6’2” tall, but his son clearly got much of his athleticism and work ethic from his dad.


What about Zach LaVine’s Mother?

Zach LaVine’s mother is C.J, LaVine.

Mrs. LaVine is Caucasian, and she was also an athlete who played softball. Many fans do not know, but Zach’s original love of sport was focused on baseball. His father would go on to play professional softball after he retired from the NFL, and his Mom also encourage the sport until he made the shift to focus on basketball.

So Then, What is Zach LaVine’s Race?

With his father being African-American, and his mother being Caucasia, Zach LaVine is bi-racial. His ethnic diversity is very similar to Blake Griffin, and becoming more of the norm for many professional athletes and NBA fans. Be careful trying to put him into any simplistic ethnic category; however, as the country continues to progress towards a multicultural norm. Similar to our past posts on Interbasket when it comes to discussing race, our intent is not to encourage any contentious discussions, but put together facts and information to facilitate dialogue among fans.

In the past we’ve discussed the race of Stephen Curry, Ben Simmons and Klay Thompson and those pieces always seem to be popular. If you have any thoughts or comments on the subject feel free to share via the comments section or our forum.

His NBA Career

In an up and down rookie campaign, LaVine saw very limited play in the first five games of his rookie season. The Wolves would place him as the starting point guard which he showed some comfort level.

He displayed some of that draft potential in a win over the LA Lakers in late November when he scored 28 points. A week later against the Spurs, LaVine scored 22 points and notch 10 assists for his first double double making him just the fourth teenager in NBA history to record a 20-10 game.

Lavine would finish his rookie season averaging a very-respectable 10.1 ppg and 3.6 assists. LaVine would improve his performance his second season to 14.0 PPG and 3.0 assists, and looks to be one of the key components of the young Timberwolves future.

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