As a football player, Justin Combs has been shadowed by his last name

As a football player, Justin Combs has been shadowed by his last name
UCLA defensive back Justin Combs has appeared in seven games over two seasons for the Bruins and has registered four tackles. (Chris Bernacchi / Associated Press)

The principal actor may have been more famous, and the alleged weapon more bizarre, but Sean "Diddy" Combs' arrest Monday for allegedly attacking a UCLA football coach with a kettlebell was not an unheard-of scene in sports. A parent, upset over the treatment of a child, decided to confront a coach.

Often, that leaves the child caught in the middle.


Much has been written about the elder Combs, and much more will likely be written in the coming days, but what about his son, Justin?

Regardless of the fallout of Monday's incident, it is unlikely to have a big effect on UCLA's on-field product. The younger Combs, a junior defensive back, was a long shot to crack the two-deep depth chart. Given UCLA's highly rated recruiting class, which included four defensive backs, playing time could remain scarce.

Combs has had a small role with the Bruins over three seasons. After being a redshirt in 2012, he appeared in three games on special teams and in the secondary as a freshman. Last season, as a sophomore, he appeared in four games and had one tackle against USC.

In a statement, UCLA Coach Jim Mora said, "This is an unfortunate incident for all parties involved. While UCPD continues to review this matter, we will let the legal process run its course and refrain from further comment at this time."

Combs, from Iona Prep in New York, was part of Mora's first recruiting class.

UCLA coaches said they recruited Combs for more than just his last name.

"Football is very important to him, and that's one thing I love about him," defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin told the Daily Bruin in 2012. "He's not just the son of a star."

Still, Combs' signing brewed controversy, not over his ability as a football player but because he was offered a scholarship. Critics pointed out that Combs was given a $360,000 car for his 16th birthday. A scholarship worth $54,000, they argued, seemed unnecessary.

At the time, UCLA spokesman Ricardo Vazquez told The Times, "There is a big separation between financial aid based on need and how that's funded and how athletic scholarships are funded and awarded to students."

Combs kept the scholarship and tweeted, "Regardless what the circumstances are, I put that work in!!!! PERIOD."

Although his father is a self-described "Bad Boy for Life," Combs has been, by all accounts, a dedicated student. His grade-point average, upon signing with UCLA, was reportedly 3.75, and  was on the UCLA athletic director's honor roll in 2012 and 2015.

While Combs has been at UCLA, his father has become a common sight at UCLA practices. A day before the incident, Justin Combs posted a photo on social media. It was, he said, from a father-son flag football game. It showed Combs, smiling, his arm around his father.

Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter @zhelfand