Ja Morant files countersuit against teenager, alleges slander and assault after pickup game gone wrong

The filing claims Morant's career could have ended when the teenager threw a ball at his face

Ja Morant is countersuing the teenager who accused him of assault during a pickup basketball game at the Memphis Grizzlies star's home, according to a Shelby County Circuit Court filing made Wednesday.

The filing, over 100 pages in length, says Morant is the victim of slander, battery and assault. Citing 16 different headlines and various social media posts, Morant's attorneys say the 23-year-old is asking for unspecified compensatory damages for harm to his career.

“The repetition and amplification of Counter-Defendant’s lies spread like wildfire,” the filing from Morant’s counsel said.

The teenager, Joshua Holloway, sued him over an altercation that occurred last summer. In March, the Washington Post reported that Holloway told police Morant punched him 12 or 13 times during a pickup basketball game at the point guard's house. He claimed Morant and a friend hit him so hard it left a "large knot" on the side of his head. He also alleged that after the assault, Morant went into his home and re-emerged with his hand on a gun.

Morant's countersuit says that he holds pickup games for talented young players at his family home as part of his "investment in Memphis," aiding the reputation his lawyers say he has worked to build.

“Probably, these false allegations were meant to make up for the fact the counter defendant and not Mr. Morant, started a fight and threatened to use a gun," the filing says.

Apr 2, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) brings the ball up court against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant has filed a countersuit against teenager Joshua Holloway. (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports).

In the filing, Morant's attorneys allege that Holloway, “apparently frustrated" during the game, "threw the ball at Mr. Morant and intentionally hit him in the face.”

“Getting hit in the face with a basketball hurts," the filing says. "For a professional point guard like Mr. Morant, an injury to the eyes or nose could be career ending."

According to the document, Holloway allegedly "then balled up his fists and walked aggressively toward Mr. Morant as if to attack him.”

The counter complaint alleges that Holloway also changed his story, citing the teenager's claim that he was kicked in his original complaint in September. The allegation does not appear in an amended complaint in March.

On top of that, the filing claims Holloway has omitted to share that he made threats to “light [Morant’s] house up like a firework show." It also includes a Snapchat post, which appears to be from the teenager. It says “Ja Morant a bitch and if I catch his ass it’s up” and “I’m on that tonight.”

In addition to claiming that Holloway lied to the police about Morant flashing a weapon, the filing alleges that more lies were leaked to the media. According to Morant's attorneys, whoever spoke to the Washington Post broke a court order for confidentiality.

Morant served an eight-game suspension stemming from a stripclub incident March 3. While the Post details other allegations against Morant in a separate story, the instance of Morant flashing a gun in the club while on Instagram Live is unrelated.

Morant has spoken about his need to be "more responsible" and subsequent time in therapy. However, the countersuit alleges that Holloway's claims, specifically, have irreparably impacted Morant's chances to make the All-NBA team.

“Before Counter-Defendant lied and before he or someone else leaked his lies to the media, Mr. Morant was a strong prospect for one of six All-NBA guard spots," the filing says. “That selection would be personally significant for Mr. Morant, because it would trigger a ‘super max’ clause in his contract extension worth millions of dollars."

Morant is back in action for the Grizzlies, filing the countersuit as the team prepares for a Western Conference playoff series with the Los Angeles Lakers.