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Lonzo Ball opens up on LeBron James’ show about split with Alan Foster and lawsuit

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 01: UCLA guard Lonzo Ball dad LaVar Ball looks on with Big Baller Brand co-f
LaVar Ball, in hat, and Alan Foster watch Lonzo Ball and UCLA play March 1, 2017, at Pauley Pavilion.
(Brian Rothmuller / Icon Sportswire / AP)

Until Saturday, Lonzo Ball hadn’t spoken publicly about what hurt him the most in his split with former business manager Alan Foster, whom the Lakers guard sued for allegedly mishandling his family’s finances.

“We looked at the transactions,” Ball said during an episode of HBO’s “The Shop” that aired Saturday night. The alleged problems “didn’t start happening until my mom got sick. She took care of all the money … . So that’s what really hurt me. That ... hurt.”

His mother, Tina, had a stroke in February 2017 and then went through a difficult recovery period. Ball was preparing to enter the NBA, and that was about the time Foster’s influence on his family and their business began to grow.

“I don’t even know what I would do if I seen him right now,” Ball said. “I haven’t seen him. When that happened, everything just went off.”

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Ball cut ties with Foster in March, and in April he and his family’s company sued Foster for damages of at least $2 million. The lawsuit asserts that Foster defrauded Ball, misled him and mismanaged Ball’s funds.

The FBI also began investigating Foster’s role with the Ball family as early as February, according to two law enforcement sources.

Foster met the family when Ball was 12, become a close friend of Ball’s father, LaVar, and then a co-founder of Big Baller Brand, the family’s show and apparel company; he remains a part owner.

Foster was convicted of defrauding 75 people of nearly $4 million in 2002, but Ball said he didn’t know about that until recently.

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Foster has not returned repeated calls and emails from The Times seeking comment.

Ball had released statements through his representatives about how difficult it was to feel cheated by someone he considered a second father, but he opened up more on the relaxed set of “The Shop,” an HBO talk show with LeBron James, whose media company, Uninterrupted, produces it.

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The episode was taped April 11, just two days after the Lakers’ season ended. As Ball began talking about Foster, James explained to another guest that “Alan is his dad’s friend who basically became his second dad.”

Said Ball: “I bought my mom and dad a house. [Foster] had a room. … The way I feel about it is different. That’s why I covered the BBB [tattoo] up on my arm. When I saw that, I saw him. That ... made me so — I was tight.”

Ball also described the difficulty of talking to his famously loquacious father about the alleged actions of such a close friend.

“That’s the first time I called him,” Ball said of his father, “and he literally shut up.”

Ball said his manager, Darren Moore, was in the room with him during the call.

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“I looked at D-Mo, I had [my father] on speaker: ‘He ain’t talking,’ ” Ball said. “So that was hard because that was the first time I ever told [my father] that: ‘Nah, let me talk.’

“I pulled up to the house that night, laid it out for him. Moving forward ever since.”

tania.ganguli@latimes.com

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli


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