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#pounditTuesday, October 3, 2023

LaMelo Ball reveals what hardest part of playing in Lithuania was

LaMelo Ball gesturing

As he lights the sky on fire for the Charlotte Hornets this season, it is easy to forget that LaMelo Ball was once a 16-year-old playing overseas in Lithuania. Ball himself certainly has not forgotten though.

In an interview this week with SLAM Magazine, the Hornets star Ball spoke on how playing in Lithuania, specifically the difficult conditions he endured, helped shape him. Ball said the sleeping arrangements were especially hard.

“Honestly after Lithuania, I didn’t give a f–k where I got drafted to,” he said. “The beds? You roll off to the left, you fall off. You roll off to the right, you fall off. Motherf–king calves hanging off the bed. Not feet, calves hanging off the bed! It was bad, bro. Once you get through that, it was like, ‘I don’t care where y’all put me in. As long as I’m in the States and I got water, I’m good.’

“That whole s–t bruh, it felt like one big a– night!” Ball added. “That s–t was crazy. Food was hard to eat out there. Hella cold. Nobody around. That’s pretty much when I just locked in. I’m like, ‘Yeah, I don’t really need too much. Just get it done and grind.’ … The mental s–t goes back to Lithuania. Ever since all that, I ain’t gon’ lie, my mental has been straight. Ain’t nothing you can do. I even sat the bench there. I literally did everything out there.”

SLAM Magazine’s entire piece on Ball’s basketball journey is worth reading in full. You can do so here.

Ball is 6-foot-7 and was only a few inches shorter than that when he was in Lithuania. That probably didn’t help his cause in fitting on the beds there.

Lithuania, where Ball played professionally for BC Vytautas, was part of his unconventional path to the NBA. At the direction of father LaVar, Ball went from Chino Hills High School straight to Lithuania. He then briefly played in his father’s self-created league, the Junior Basketball Association (JBA), before spending another year in Australia with the NBL’s Illawarra Hawks.

Ball’s roundabout route ended up paying off as he was drafted No. 3 overall by the Hornets in 2020, won Rookie of the Year last season, and was named an All-Star in the East this season. As for skipping college altogether, Ball hilariously does not regret that one single bit.

Photo: Jan 8, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) reacts after making a three point basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second period at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports


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