Ja Morant Mar 22, 2023; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) adjusts his headphones during warm ups prior to the game against the Houston Rockets at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Suspended for his role in another off-court scandal, Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant raised concerns about his mental state after a series of concerning Instagram stories, prompting local authorities to conduct a welfare check. Fortunately, Morant is “fine,” downplaying his cryptic posts (which he has since deleted) while telling Shelby County Police he plans to take a break from social media.

Public perception of Morant had changed considerably since March when he was suspended eight games for wielding a firearm while intoxicated at a Denver strip club. Morant briefly left the team to undergo stress counseling in Florida, lamenting his “terrible mistake” in a tell-all interview with ESPN’s Jalen Rose. Two months later, Morant found himself in similar hot water, again flashing a gun on Instagram Live. The Grizzlies suspended him shortly after the video surfaced, prompting this tepid apology.

Commissioner Adam Silver didn’t mince words at last week’s Draft Lottery, expressing his “shock” that the 2022 recipient of the NBA Most Improved Player Award would make the same mistake so soon after his earlier incident, especially after warning of what serious consequences Morant could face by subjecting the league to another unwanted controversy.

While the Memphis Grizzlies star has very much done this to himself, showing little accountability for his continued immaturity, he’s still a human being deserving of love and compassion. Even amid some of his more self-destructive behavior. As Roy Kent conveyed so profoundly on a recent episode of Ted Lasso, “None of us knows what is going on in each other’s lives.”

Morant will have to put in the work to rebuild his reputation. But if Ja Morant gets the help and support he needs from friends, family, teammates, and even us as fans, perhaps he’ll become a better man, a wiser, more resilient leader shaped by his experiences.


About Jesse Pantuosco

Jesse Pantuosco joined Awful Announcing as a contributing writer in May 2023. He’s also written for Audacy and NBC Sports. A graduate of Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a master’s degree in creative writing from Fairfield University, Pantuosco has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut and never misses a Red Sox, Celtics or Patriots game.