An unauthorized sports biography, We Ballin’: What I learned from LaVar Ball about Basketball, Business, and Bravado centers on the rise in fame and fortune of LaVar Ball, father of the Ball brothers and founder of the Big Baller Brand. It is told from the perspective of Marissa Mitchell, former protégé and later biographer and publicist for LaVar Ball. Written from Marissa’s viewpoint, the story begins with a twelve-year-old girl aspiring to play basketball. Her father seeks out a coach to explore his book-smart daughter’s athletic prowess. He ended up finding a loud, boisterous local man named LaVar Ball. Mr. Ball put her through a tough, disciplined training program that honed her body while she often played one-on-one basketball with his small children. During that time, LaVar confided in her his dreams to make his three sons NBA players using a similar training method. Although she decided not to play basketball in college, instead taking the academic route, she and her father kept in contact with Mr. Ball throughout the years. With her background in English and teaching, she later contacted Mr. Ball with the offer to write his biography. It was the year the three “Ball Brothers” took their public high school basketball team to the California State Championship.
Mr. Ball was very enthusiastic to have Marissa back in the fold of the Ball family. Several in-person interviews ensued, excerpts of which are included in the manuscript. During those interviews, Marissa was asked to assume more responsibilities for the growing family business (Big Baller Brand and Big Baller Media) with the understanding her compensation would be retroactive, with a solid contract at the end of the year 2017. Marissa eagerly accepted the challenge and with the biography almost completed and having worked countless hours pro bono (ending with Lonzo Ball being drafted to the Lakers), Marissa was then fired by LaVar Ball’s new manager. As she comes to terms with being fired and dealing with the complicated emotions that resulted from her one-time role model having her dismissed, she began to see LaVar for what he truly is. She saw firsthand how money, fame, and success can affect people who seem to have your back. In her story, Marissa provides a chronological look at how the business grew and the Ball brothers evolved into pro basketball players. She examines the many controversies LaVar Ball found himself in—from his sons arrest in China to his Twitter war with Donald Trump. Through it all, this idealistic young woman learned that people are not always the way they appear on the outside. And more importantly, through challenges and difficult situations, personal growth can come along when you least expect it. Interestingly enough, after everything she went through, Marissa learned a lot about herself and more importantly, she ended up with the exact things she admired in the Ball family: her own family, a growing career, and a renewed sense of self.