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Published on April 10, 2024
Memphis Grizzlies' Ja Morant Wins in Court, Judge Cites Self-Defense in Teen Punching IncidentSource: All-Pro Reels, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In what seems to be a judicial crossover, Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant has scored a victorious ruling in Shelby County Court, with a judge finding his punch thrown at teenager Joshua Holloway during a 2022 basketball game to be an act of self-defense. The decision puts a spotlight on Tennessee's self-defense immunity statute, which now puts the burden of proof squarely on the shoulders of Holloway's legal team.

The incident, which took place at Morant's home court in Eads during a heated pickup game, sparked when Holloway, clearly not happy about losing, made a forceful pass that struck Morant square in the face. This led to the NBA player asking, "what you on?" and when Holloway seemed to gear up for a fight, Morant did not back down, according to a report by WMC. The brief scuffle ended with Morant taking a swing at the teenager in what would become a much-dissected altercation, fetching headlines and lawsuits in equal measure.

Details from a RealGM article indicate that during a December 2023 civil immunity hearing, Morant testified that he threw the first punch to protect himself when Holloway moved towards him following the aggressive pass. In the game of legal defense, however, Morant didn't have to jump through hoops as Judge Carol Chumney acknowledged that Morant "enjoys a presumption of civil immunity," swinging the responsibility to Holloway's camp to counter the self-defense claim.

Morant's court challenges aren't purely of the judicial kind. His playing season was riddled with suspension-related potholes, including a 25-game downtime issued by the NBA for conduct deemed detrimental to the league. Things didn't go all-in his favor since, despite returning strong with an impressive stat line of 25.1 points, 8.1 assists, and 5.6 rebounds per game, needless to say, he then had to sit out due to a shoulder injury. Amid all this, the Grizzlies have been left scrambling in the Western Conference with a record placing them near the bottom rung, according to an ESPN report.

The battle isn't over yet for Holloway as his attorney Rebecca Adelman asserted, "We're disappointed, and we will continue to take the steps necessary to protect and advocate for Joshua," in statements to ESPN.