Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant has filed a countersuit against the Memphis teenager suing the two-time All-Star, accusing the teen of slander, battery and assault over a pickup basketball game at Morant’s home last July.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday night in Shelby County Circuit Court accuses Joshua Holloway, whose lawsuit was amended March 28 after he turned 18, of damaging Morant’s reputation and putting him at risk of losing millions of dollars both in his contract and in potential endorsement deals.
Morant declined to comment Thursday when asked about his countersuit after practice. The Grizzlies are the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference preparing to host LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers starting Sunday.
The guard signed a five-year, $193 million contract last July that includes a $38 million bonus for making the All-NBA team this season. The NBA suspended Morant eight games in March for “conduct detrimental to the league” for displaying a firearm at a suburban Denver club on March 4.
Morant’s countersuit notes the lawsuit was reported nationally despite being under seal until the amended version was filed March 28 and that the lawsuit potentially jeopardizes the guard’s relationships with sponsors including some “unconsummated deals in progress.”
In the countersuit, Morant also accuses the teen of lying to police, in the original lawsuit and then changing his story in the amended version.
Morant says in the countersuit he punched Holloway once after being hit in the face with a basketball during a July 26 pickup game at his home after the teen approached the Grizzlies guard with “balled up” fists.
Holloway’s attorneys did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press requesting comment on Morant’s countersuit.
Holloway’s amended lawsuit accuses “one or both” Morant and his friend Davonte Pack of punching him even after he went to the ground and that Morant pointed to a gun at his hip as the teen left. According to the teen’s lawsuit, Holloway’s mother called police when he arrived home that night.
“These statements were false, and Counter-Defendant had actual knowledge of their falsehood or had reckless disregard for the truth,” according to Morant’s countersuit.
The countersuit cites witnesses estimating the altercation lasted 10 seconds before Morant’s father escorted Holloway out as the Grizzlies guard stayed on the court. On his way out, the countersuit alleges Holloway yelled he would return to “light (Mr. Morant’s) house up like a firework show.”
Morant also says he later received a threat on Snapchat appearing to be from Holloway, prompting him and his family to report the teen’s threats to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department on Aug. 8. Eight witnesses filed affidavits, and the local district attorney declined to file any charges Oct. 27.
Associated Press writer Adrian Sainz contributed to this report from Memphis, Tennessee.
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