How Chino Hills Fueled LaVar Ball’s Ambition (and Vice Versa)

A small city became a rising basketball destination

LaVar Ball
LaVar Ball in 2018.
Cassy Athena/Getty Images

LaVar Ball is an ambitious man. He’s best-known for his role in the career of his sons Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo; he’s also the co-founder of Big Baller Brand and an outspoken media personality in his own right. In a comment made for a recent Los Angeles Times article, Ball gave a sense of the breadth of his ambition. “When you hear that Ball name, just like you hear the Hiltons and the Rockefellers and all that, when I’m dead and gone, you going to remember that Ball name,” he said.

The article, by Clippers beat writer Andrew Grief, offers a comprehensive portrait of Ball — and argues that the Ball family’s decision years ago to settle in Chino Hills was fateful for family and city alike.

LaVar and his wife Tina moved to Chino Hills in 1996, drawn by the pastoral landscape and the terrain. And his goals for his sons were, to hear one source tell it, present from the start. Museum director Paul Spitzzeri recalls LaVar telling him, “[T]hese two are going to be in the NBA,” regarding Lonzo and LiAngelo. The elder Ball credits the trails around the city with helping to keep his sons in great shape while growing up.

Greif makes an interesting point in his article — namely, that LaVar Ball’s ambition was met by that of the city in which he lives. Both family and city benefited from their close association; namely, that Chino Hills could tout itself as a city on the rise, buoyed by a number of basketball prospects. The relationship between celebrities and the places where they came of age is often fascinating; this account helps show why.

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