Ja Morant’s Reminder to the World that He is Still “Him”
In a little town on the outskirts of Sumter, South Carolina, a young basketball prodigy emerged from humble beginnings. Tucked away amid corn fields, tiny corner stores, and churches lining the long and winding roads, Dalzell, SC is where it all began for the now NBA All-star, Ja Morant.
Born Temetrius Jamel Morant, the Grizzlies’ point guard was born into a family of athletes so the fact that he found his way to basketball is no surprise. From his standout days at Murray State to the recent legal troubles that have had the internet buzzing, Morant’s journey has not been without its challenges. Coming from a world far removed from the one he would end up in, Morant would be at the center of several newsworthy stories stemming from images that surfaced on the internet. The young star, called the future of the NBA by some, went from under-recruited to second overall draft pick in 2019 to potentially jeopardizing his entire career after having been seen with a firearm on an Instagram live video. This took place only weeks after the infamous strip club video. Having been handed a twenty-five-game suspension and losing millions of dollars in the process, it is safe to say that “Twelve”, as he is affectionately called by his fans, was about to face a court tougher than any court he had ever been on before; The Court of Public Opinion. There was scrutiny, much-deserved scrutiny. There was backlash, backlash that the now 24-year-old basketball star called to his door with some choices that he would later have to answer for. This was bad. It was really bad and all eyes were on him and everyone around him. Watching. Waiting. Oh, but what the world does not know about those who are Carolina-born and bred is that where we come from, a setback is a setup for a comeback.
After months of anticipation, we have witnessed a comeback like no other and Sheen Magazine was there to witness it all!
But first, let’s take it back
Born on August 10, 1999, Ja Morant grew up in Sumter, a city rich in history and cultural heritage. Surrounded by the warmth of his family, Morant’s childhood was filled with love and encouragement. The Morant household instilled in him the values of hard work, perseverance, and the importance of community. Nestled away in its own little corner pocket, this unique area of the South is one you’d have to experience to appreciate and understand.
Murray State’s Hidden Gem:
Ja Morant’s ascent to national prominence began during his college years at Murray State University. The dynamic point guard showcased his exceptional skills, leading the Racers to unprecedented success. His remarkable performances earned him the attention of NBA scouts, and in 2019, Morant declared for the NBA draft. Selected by the Memphis Grizzlies with the second overall pick, Morant’s dream became a reality. The spotlight shone brighter on him, and he embraced the challenge with the same fervor that defined his collegiate career. Morant quickly became a symbol of hope for the Grizzlies franchise and a rising star in the league.
As Morant’s career soared to new heights, he encountered a setback that tested his resolve. Recent legal troubles cast a shadow over his otherwise sterling reputation. However, Morant is facing the adversity head-on, supported by his family and the community that had watched him grow into a remarkable athlete and young man. At the core of Ja Morant’s redemption story is the unwavering support of his family. Through thick and thin, they stood by him, reinforcing the values instilled in him during his Sumter upbringing. Their love and guidance became the bedrock upon which Morant built his path to redemption.
In a hushed Smoothie King Center arena and downtown New Orleans, Louisiana, the young superstar would make his return against his former AAU teammate Zion Williamson, also a Carolina native. As the time neared for the game to start, I looked around and saw Memphis Grizzlies jerseys peppered across a sea of New Orleans Pelicans gear. The air was thick. We were on the edge of our seats and Ja Morant stepped onto the court, met by boos from the crowd. Doubted by many, Morant finished with a high of 34 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists. Postgame, Morant said his teammates have been supporting him like “brothers” during his suspension.
“I’m a dog,” Morant told TNT Sports as his teammates came to rush him after the game. “I’ve been putting work in, I haven’t played a game in eight months, had a lot of time learning about myself, a lot of hard days where I went through it, but basketball is my life and what I love. For the dagger, Morant hit the game-winning buzzer-beater on his return from suspension to give the Memphis Grizzlies a much needed 115-113 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
To sum it all up, Morant says that in clutch moments, “Call Twelve”.
Photo Credits: Jayla Lee & Sports Illustrated