Just days before the end of his 25-game suspension, Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant testified in a civil lawsuit hearing related to an incident during a basketball game at his home in July 2022.
Morant told the court that a teenager hit him in the face with a one-handed pass at close range, adding that he then punched the teenager in the face. Morant testified on the witness stand that the teenager hit him in the chest, closed his fists, and got into a fighting stance.
The lawsuit was filed by Joshua Holloway, who was 17 when the brief brawl broke out during a basketball game on a court located at the NBA All-Star’s parents’ home in the Memphis area.
Holloway, now 18, accuses Morant and his friend Davonte Pack of assault, endangerment, abuse or neglect and infliction of emotional distress.
Morant, 24, claimed that he and Pack each hit Holloway once. And that Pack’s blow knocked Holloway to the ground.
After being hit in the face, Morant asked Holloway: “What’s wrong?”, a phrase that according to Morant meant: “Why did you do that?”.
Morant testified that Holloway said nothing and did not apologize. The two then approached each other and stood, chest to chest, before Holloway gave Morant a shoulder bump, pulled up his shorts by his waist, and clenched his fists, which Morant interpreted as a fighting stance.
“I thought he was going to hit me, so I hit first.”, Morant said.
After Morant’s punch landed on Holloway’s face, Pack hit Holloway in the head, knocking him to the ground, Morant said. Holloway was escorted off the court by former NBA player Mike Miller.
Morant finally admitted that he could have reacted differently. Morant’s lawyers argued that he acted in self-defense when he hit Holloway. It was the first time the Grizzlies star spoke fully about the incident in public.