Brandon Ingram: 6-foot-9 Lakers forward and aspiring artist

Ball Don't Lie
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/5601/" data-ylk="slk:Brandon Ingram">Brandon Ingram</a> and Jonas Nevers discuss plans for a new Los Angeles mural. (Jackie Bamberger/Yahoo Sports)
Brandon Ingram and Jonas Nevers discuss plans for a new Los Angeles mural. (Jackie Bamberger/Yahoo Sports)

Russell Westbrook has a passion for fashion. Damian Lillard goes by Dame Dolla in his spare time. Victor Oladipo can hit a mean high note. Luc Mbah a Moute claims he can whistle along to any song.

Across the NBA, athletes have different talents that drive and complement their skills on the court. For Los Angeles Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram, the passion that has helped him take on his first grueling season in the league is art.

Ingram and Never talk art at Never’s garage studio. (Jackie Bamberger/Yahoo Sports)
Ingram and Never talk art at Never’s garage studio. (Jackie Bamberger/Yahoo Sports)

“It’s something I started in college [at Duke University] honestly to do when you’re not playing basketball, when you’re not doing homework,” Ingram told Yahoo Sports. “It’s something to relax. It’s something I find myself doing just outside of the court.”

Ingram first began drawing his favorite basketball players and cartoon characters and then bolstered his skills by taking a portrait drawing class at Duke.

He recently got the chance to team up with L.A. street artist Jonas Never as part of Delta’s “Beyond the Court” campaign, which will see Ingram and Laker teammate Jordan Clarkson, an aspiring fashion designer, explore their passions outside of basketball.

If you haven’t heard of Never, you’ve likely seen his work, especially if you’ve spent time in the City of Angels. Jonas is one of the city’s most-well known street artists, having previously paid homage to Los Angeles icons like Ronda Rousey, Vin Scully and Kobe Bryant. His most nationally recognized work is a dual tribute to ESPN’s Stuart Scott and TNT’s Craig Sager.

Inside Never’s garage studio in Culver City (Jackie Bamberger/Yahoo Sports)
Inside Never’s garage studio in Culver City (Jackie Bamberger/Yahoo Sports)

At Never’s garage studio in Culver City, Never and Ingram discussed plans for a new 8-foot by 22-foot mural that Laker fans will have a chance to help create at a March 11 event (fans can sign up to take part here) and will displayed in the streets of L.A.

It’s hard to picture a 6-foot-9 NBA forward as the quiet, contemplative artist type, but Ingram is a different kind of beast. He speaks softly, steadily and is careful with his words, rarely showing any type of emotion.

Though the bright lights of Los Angeles are a long way from his hometown of Kinston, N.C., the 19-year-old admits he rarely goes out in his new city, preferring to spend time with his older brother, Bo.

“Sometimes I catch myself bored,” he said. “I always find myself just going back to the gym or with my brother playing games at the house, but I never seem to just get out and do something.”

Never’s past work includes a Kobe Bryant themed mural. (Jackie Bamberger/Yahoo Sports)
Never’s past work includes a Kobe Bryant themed mural. (Jackie Bamberger/Yahoo Sports)

On the court, Ingram’s first season has reflected anything but a flat line, as career highs are often punctuated with frustrating slumps. He has evolved into an everyday starter for the Lakers and expects to feature more in the second half of the season.

“The grind of the season, traveling from different states just coming in … that’s just the biggest adjustment for me right now,” Ingram said. “Everything that comes with it, just, this actually being a job and how much work you have to put into it to be where you want to be and the player you want to be.”

Ingram sketches a design. (Jackie Bamberger/Yahoo Sports)
Ingram sketches a design. (Jackie Bamberger/Yahoo Sports)

Los Angeles recently gave Ingram reassurance of its commitment to him, as it was reported the Lakers would not have accepted any trade deadline deals involving the 19-year-old. Though the progress has been measured, no one seems to appreciate that commitment more than him.

“I think the people I surround myself with, they really help me a lot just adjusting to this,” Ingram said. “Just being with family and being in the gym a lot. It feels like home, just being in the gym a lot.”

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