Monday, October 2 2023
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In a Washington Post story by Gus Garcia-Roberts and Molly Hensley-Clancy, a 22-year-old shoe salesman named Givon Busby said that Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant threatened him last summer, as he hid in the back of a sneaker store for nearly an hour. Busby also said that, after telling Memphis police about it, he never heard from them again. 

Separately, Joshua Holloway, who plays point guard for Oak Hill Academy, identified himself as the high school basketball player whom Morant allegedly punched during a pickup game last summer. The Post reported that, while then-Sgt. Annette Cotton told Patrolman Gregory Stratman, “OK, on your end we’re going to handle it just as normal,” following an interview at Holloway’s house on the day of the altercation, the  Shelby County Sheriff’s Office didn’t interview Morant for six weeks, didn’t ask him about Holloway’s allegation that he flashed a handgun and were not interested in identifying Morant’s friend, Davonte Pack, who also allegedly hit Holloway. The detectives shelved the case, citing a lack of evidence. 

The Post also obtained a police report stating that, in September, when Morant and a group of people were involved in an incident at his sister’s high school in Germantown, Tenn., someone in the group slapped a phone out of the hand of a student who was filming. The confrontation took place at a volleyball game, and, according to the police officer who wrote the report, students said the associate of Morant’s threatened to “beat” them. One of the parents wanted to press charges, but Grizzlies head of security Kevin Helms “showed up to help smooth over the issue,” according to the Post. Germantown Police Captain Kevin Simpson would not tell the Post whether or not detectives ever identified the man who made the alleged threat.

Here’s more from Busby in the Post article:

As he handled a busy day at the store, Busby said, a customer became angry that he had helped two White women before her. Busby, who is Black, said he never intended to disrespect anyone.

But she became angrier still, Busby said, when he informed her that he didn’t have the shoe she wanted — the Nike VaporMax 2021, in orange and cheetah print — in her size. She began following him around and yelling, Busby said, saying she would call her son. Busby’s managers sent him into the back, he said, fearing for his safety.

Busby said he didn’t learn that the woman was Jamie Morant, Ja’s mother, until the superstar arrived with a group of around nine people. (Reached by The Post, Jamie Morant hung up on a reporter after they introduced themselves.)

“Where’s the short guy with the dreads?” Morant kept shouting, according to Busby. Morant went into a part of the store where customers weren’t allowed, Busby said, and looked through the window of the stock room. He said Morant then shouted, “I’m gonna wait until you get off work.”

Four days later, he went to a Memphis Police precinct to report what happened. The resulting police report, which The Post obtained through a public records request, showed that Busby told the same story to an officer. He told the police that the store had security cameras, so they could review footage if needed.

But the police never followed up, Busby said. “I just feel like they thought I was lying, basically,” Busby said.

More on Holloway:

Holloway, the high school basketball player punched by Morant, said he idolized the Grizzlies star and considered him a mentor, brimming with pride when Morant appeared at one of his games, gifted him sneakers and invited him to his home for pickup games. Then his basketball hero attacked him, Holloway said, after he threw a ball that slipped through Morant’s hands and hit him in the chin. Morant kept hitting him even after he fell to the ground, Holloway told police.

The knot on the side of Holloway’s head faded, but he has been left feeling anxious and betrayed. He filed suit against Morant and his friend, Davonte Pack, in September. Morant and Pack’s lawyers have called the lawsuit a “shakedown” orchestrated by Holloway’s mother, who initially asked for $11 million to settle her family’s claims.

During their own interview with detectives, the Holloways attempted to provide evidence of their own, sharing messages that Alex Lomax, Joshua Holloway’s cousin and a guard for the University of Memphis basketball team, sent to Morant and Pack on Instagram confronting them about the altercation.

“Dam whats good?” Lomax wrote. “Yall beat up my youngin yesterday? Lil Joshhh?”

“[A]sk lil bruh what he did,” Morant responded, according to the messages which were later filed in Holloway’s lawsuit. “[I] gave em chances. wouldn’t do a youngin like dat for no reason … lil bruh want people to feel sorry for him, for something he caused.”

“Real n—– aint movin like that,” Lomax wrote. “Thats a kid.”

“[R]eal n—– aint gon get disrespected or a ball thrown at they face either,” Morant responded.

The detectives, though, appeared unimpressed.

“I guess this gonna sound bad but, to play devil’s advocate, with a kind of situation like that, he doesn’t really state what he did,” Detective Melvin Harris told the Holloways.

Rebecca Adelman, a lawyer who took over the case from the Holloways’ previous attorneys in November, said that a focus of the litigation going forward is exploring “the glaring failings in the law enforcement response to the claim that a minor was assaulted” by a famous and powerful figure in the city. With the file unsealed, she said, “people can now see what the investigation included and what it did not include.”

Morant recently returned to the court after the NBA suspended him for live streaming a video “in which he is holding a firearm in an intoxicated state” at a strip club in Colorado. Morant has taken responsibility for that incident, but not these ones.

In an interview with ESPN’s Jalen Rose, Morant said, “All the incidents you’ve seen recently, most of them is a lie. I can’t speak too much on those situations because all of ’em are sealed and I really can’t wait to be able to finally tell the truth, but what I can say is, like I said before, none of those are my character. And I’m a big family guy. I always care for my family, so it was just me checking on my family’s safety. Once I was safe, I left the scene.”

Two weeks after the pickup game, Morant and his family filed a complaint, alleging to police that Holloway, while leaving the house, had threatened to “light the block up,” and they feared that he would “come back and shoot at them with a firearm.” Asked about this, Holloway told the Post, “No, I don’t remember making any statements like that,”

Three alleged victims told the Post that neither the NBA nor the Grizzlies have reached out to them. This report follows the Post‘s earlier reporting on the incidents at the shoe store and the pickup game. The one that took place at the high school volleyball game was first reported by TMZ.



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