Virgen: Ballentine happy to be honored

There's just something hilarious about a tall white man cracking jokes in broken Spanish.

Stan Morrison, a former college basketball coach, brought the house down during the annual All-Star Lowsman Banquet, honoring Mr. Irrelevant Lonnie Ballentine, the final pick of the NFL Draft.

Morrison did become serious actually and encouraged Morrison to use his best effort to make the Houston Texans.

Ballentine took all the roasting in good spirit and appeared excited to receive the Lowsman Trophy, which has a figurine fumbling the football.

Ballentine reminded those in attendance at the Island Hotel that his intentions in the NFL are of no laughing matter.

"I plan to make you all proud," Ballentine said in front of a crowd, that included his family, his wife, Brittany and two daughters, Londyn and Laila.

Ballentine's table also included Khalil Reed, the Texans' security and player engagement manager. He said he wasn't allowed to speak to the media. So in that sense, Reed was actually Mr. Irrelevant.

But he didn't receive the ribbing Ballentine took. But each speaker made sure to encourage the free safety and speak about his greatest assets, including his measurables: 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and 4.38-second speed in the 40-yard dash.

The speakers featured former pros Sam Cunningham and Mike Haynes and former UCLA coach Terry Donahue. Former USC and Rams coach John Robinson worked the event as emcee and also gained a great amount of laughs.

Cunningham and Haynes pointed out the importance of Ballentine's devotion to his family. Ballentine was excited that the night featured a charity that is close to his heart: the Southern California Special Olympics. Laila was born Down syndrome.

Throughout Irrelevant Week, Ballentine has displayed his love for his family, including his mother, Sheila, a teacher who taught her son discipline among many other attributes.

Ballentine said he was a kid who stayed out of trouble for the most part while growing up in Memphis, Tenn. in a home with a single mother. Ballentine said his father was present throughout his childhood.

However, it was his mom who taught him a strong lesson in discipline, a trait he continues to show.

Ballentine said when he was in the eighth grade, he didn't follow the dress code once and his mother made him wear a shirt and tie with slacks the rest of the school year.

Ballentine said the punishment taught him to stay straight, follow rules and always make a good impression.

He dressed sharp on Thursday night, so the speakers made sure to pick on other parts of his life, mainly the fact that he was the final pick in the draft.

But Leigh Steinberg, an NFL agent, made sure to remind Ballentine that he is actually relevant in the game because the draft is seven rounds, shorter than in years past.

Rookies are expected to contribute right away, Steinberg said.

Ballentine believes he is ready.

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