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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Grizzlies’ Morant delivers for a young fan

by Wally Hall | January 13, 2023 at 2:16 a.m.


Ja Morant might have been showing off for a special fan Wednesday night when he scored 38 points as the Memphis Grizzlies downed San Antonio 135-129.

The last time the teams met, Ellie Hughes -- an 11-year-old Grizzlies fan from Forrest City -- was trying to get Morant's attention so she could ask if he would autograph her basketball.

Hughes started collecting autographs on the ball when she was 5.

Before she could get Morant's attention, two people stole her ball.

Through social media, Morant learned about what happened and reached out to her family, who came to the game as his guest.

He also gave Hughes the jersey he wore in the game and Ja 1 Nike shoes, which have not even been released to the public.

Morant, the second pick in the 2019 NBA Draft after a consensus All-American sophomore season at Murray State, averages 27 points a game.

He wears No. 12 on his jersey, but he's probably No. 1 in the heart of a young lady in Forrest City.

. . .

Jacob Moore hasn't needed much in life.

He has a good family and friends, and sports comes natural to him.

The senior scholar/athlete at Cave City was the quarterback on the football team, a power forward on the basketball team and a standout in soccer.

He was captain on all three teams. He was also two-time all conference in tennis.

He was averaging more than 19 points per game but last week was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and is under the care of the doctors and nurses at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock.

Moore is 18.

He nor anyone in his family reached out, but the 4.2 GPA student needs help.

Starting with thoughts, but the treatment and medications can be very expensive and his friends have started a gofundme.com and his fund can be found under "Jacob Moore is fighting B-ALL."

His friends, teammates and the community are behind him, but he needs to know he has the great state of Arkansas in his corner, too.

. . .

After falling to Alabama 84-69 on Wednesday night, Arkansas dropped slightly in the NCAA NET rankings to No. 20, which shows some respect for SEC basketball.

The Crimson Tide remained at No. 6 and Tennessee is the highest-ranked SEC team at No. 2.

Rick Barnes became the Vols' coach for the 2015-16 season after being fired at Texas, where he was 402-180.

In his eighth season at Tennessee, he is 163-82 and Texas is looking for its third coach since dismissing him.

. . .

The Razorbacks will try to get back in the win column Saturday when they travel to Vanderbilt.

The Commodores are 8-8 overall, but six of the wins came in Memorial Gym, which is a tricky place to play.

The court is elevated and sometimes it takes a few minutes for a team to adjust playing several feet above the front row.

. . .

The rumor about the Big Ten commissioner turned out to be true.

Kevin Warren is the new president/CEO of the Chicago Bears.

Hired in 2020, Warren negotiated a $1.2 billion television contract for his league that will include games on CBS, Fox and NBC.

But the college athletic scene is a slippery slope with the transfer portal and NIL deals.

The number of athletes entering the transfer portal is almost mind-boggling. The NIL has no rules or regulations other than what a state imposes, and of those states that made laws many had to go back quickly and make changes.

Not that going to the Bears will be a walk in the park. They finished last in the NFL North with a league worst record of 3-14.


Print Headline: Grizzlies’ Morant delivers for a young fan

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