As their talented sons duke it out in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, Karl-Anthony Towns Sr. and Tee Morant are enjoying some friendly trash talk. They’re also active, committed, Black fathers that have helped raise successful young Black men.
The Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves are tied 1-1 in their best-of-seven series. During Game 1, Towns Sr. and Morant were seen engaging in some friendly trash talk. Towns Sr. got the upper hand as his son’s Timberwolves stunned the Grizzlies in Game 1.
The friendly ribbing continued during Game 2, a Grizzlies win, when the two men spoke to Turner Sports’ Chris Haynes during the second quarter. Haynes asked if the two men had any wagers going.
“They get a little lead, now they want to talk,” said Towns Sr.
“As the young kids say,” Morant responded. “That’s all cap.”
— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 20, 2022
Grizzlies star Ja Morant refers to his dad as his “first hater.” His tough love is why Ja is so good today and never rests, because he knows his dad will have some kind of critique or ways he can improve.
Tee Morant played high school basketball in Dalzell, South Carolina, alongside future Hall of Famer Ray Allen. Tee had pro dreams of his own, but they ended when Ja was born. Tee and his wife Jamie raised Ja in Dalzell, and with the help of trainers developed Ja into an excellent high school player.
Ja went on to play two seasons at Murray State, where he shined in the postseason his sophomore year. At the conclusion of the season, he declared for the NBA draft. He was named first-team All-Rookie, Rookie of the Year, led the team to the playoffs last season, was an All-Star this season and led the Grizzlies to the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
Towns Sr. played basketball for Monmouth University and coached AAU basketball, and at Piscataway Technical High School, where Towns Jr. practiced as a fifth grader.
The elder Towns helped guide his son to All-American and Gatorade National Player of the Year honors in high school. The younger Towns starred at Kentucky for one season before entering the NBA draft in 2015.
Towns was named first-team All-Rookie, Rookie of the Year, made three All-Star teams and one All-NBA selection.
The last two years have been extremely tough on the Towns family. Jacqueline Towns, wife of Sr., and mother of Jr., died in April 2020 due to COVID-19 complications. Eight total Towns family members died due to COVID over the past two years.
Towns Jr., had his own battle with the virus that left him hospitalized. Losing his mother was extremely painful, as she was his biggest fan. His father has been a source of strength for him and someone to lean on during difficult times.
“I’ve been through so much bull—- in recent years and had my name thrown in so many things, and it’s because of my mother and the morals and values she’s taught me, and especially my father, I’ve been professional every step of the way, even when it was really hard,” said Towns.
“I just have so much to thank my mom for, because I feel like if I didn’t have her and my father and my sister, I don’t think I would have the character I have, nor would I have the strength to hold the character I have through what the NBA life contains and the job contains, as well.”
Whatever challenges come their way, Towns and Morant have their fathers for guidance and support.
As for the friendly wager? Rumor has it the loser has to wear the winner’s son’s jersey.