Ja Morant returned to play with his team, the Memphis Grizzles, on Wednesday, March 22nd, and returned to their starting lineup the following Sunday, March 26th.1 This return followed a nine game absence, the last eight games of which were part of a suspension handed down by the NBA. The suspension was handed down for “conduct detrimental to the league”, and was in response to a March 4th incident where Ja was allegedly seen brandishing a handgun on Instagram live. 23The suspension accounted for the six games Ja had already spent away from the team.
Following this incident, Ja stated that he was going to “. . . take some time away to help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress . . .”4. He is in the unique position of not only being a professional athlete, but also of being one of the biggest upcoming superstars in the league, holding large sponsorship contracts with both Powerade and Nike. 5Ja appears to be taking these issues very seriously, taking responsibility for his actions, despite the league’s finding that the gun was not his.
That being said, Ja acknowledges that “It’s still an ongoing process”, and he is seeking redemption from his fans. 6At his first game back, Ja’s father could be seen in his standard courtside seat, sporting a hoodie featuring his son’s likeness and the word “Redemption”. While it is yet to be seen where Ja will end up, it appears he is on the right track.