Grizzlies’ Ja Morant Gets Favorable Self-Defense Ruling in Lawsuit

A Tennessee judge has given a ruling of “self-defense” regarding Memphis Grizzlies point guard NBA All-Star Ja Morant and his ongoing lawsuit, which was filed after a pickup basketball incident in July of 2022, where he was accused of punching a teenager.Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies, NBA

This case ruling stems from a hearing from December 2023, where Morant testified that he only swung first at 17-year-old, Joshua Holloway, to protect himself during an altercation that started when the accuser (Holloway) threw a pass that hit Morant in the face during a check-ball occurrence. To note, this apparently happened out of frustration from losing too many games in a row.

Morant alleges that Holloway then took a step towards him, which resulted in the Grizzlies’ superstar not backing down, but rather punching the irritated teenager. This then led to Holloway filing a lawsuit accusing Morant of assault. 

According to ESPN, “In Monday’s filing, Shelby County Circuit Judge Carol Chumney ruled Morant ‘enjoys a presumption of civil immunity’ under Tennessee’s self-defense immunity statute and that the burden of proof shifts to Holloway and his legal team to prove that Morant didn’t act in self-defense.”

Considering all of the off-the-court antics, this beneficial ruling may be a sigh of relief, Morant will hope to put the past behind, as he has taken full responsibility for not only this but also the two incidents with him brandishing a firearm on social media. To point out, Morant was first suspended eight games at the end of the 2022-23 season, when he was seen on an Instagram Live video holding up a gun in a Denver nightclub. Then to start the 2023-24 season, Morant also missed the first 25 games of the season, which was a result of another video in May 2023 circulating online of him holding a gun in the passenger seat of a car. 

Morant returned to the court in December 2023, and actually won Western Conference Player of the Week in his first week back. However, the two-time All-Star was only able to appear in nine games, as he unfortunately suffered a season-ending shoulder injury during a practice in January. In his limited games this season, the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year averaged 25.1 points (47.1% FG), 8.1 assists and 5.6 rebounds. 

Former NBA star Gilbert Arenas, who also dealt with the backlash of a similar incident during his playing career when he brought guns into the Wizards’ team locker room, recently spoke on Morant overcoming his past behavior: “The fact that he’s stayed out of the limelight, he’s getting healthy, for the most part. His trouble was his cellphone. The fact that he’s laid low, I think everybody just can’t wait till next year with him. I think this summer is gonna be a real rebranding for him.”

The Grizzlies certainly need Morant in uniform and not in street clothes, as the team went 6-3 when he played, but currently have a 27-51 record, which puts them third to the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

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