Lawyers for teen suing NBA star Ja Morant over a fight during a pickup game withdraw from the case

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Lawyers for a teenager who is suing two-time NBA All-Star Ja Morant over a fight during an offseason pickup game can withdraw from the case after citing irreconcilable conflicts with their client, a Tennessee judge ruled Friday.

Rebecca Adelman and Leslie Ballin had filed a motion in Shelby County Circuit Court asking a judge to allow them to withdraw from the lawsuit filed by Joshua Holloway against Morant, who hosted a daylong series of pickup games at his parents’ home in July 2022 that ended when the Memphis Grizzlies guard punched the then 17-year-old Holloway once in the face.

Judge Carol Chumney granted the request during a brief hearing Friday. Adelman did not provide details of the nature of conflicts, only saying in court that she felt she was unable to exercise her “legal judgement” in support of Holloway. The judge gave Holloway’s parents 30 days to report to the court with information on a new lawyer.

Myca Clay, Holloway’s mother, said she was seeking new representation for her son, who plays college basketball for Samford. Clay said after the hearing that she is not open to settling the lawsuit filed in September 2022 and she did not agree with the way her son’s lawyers represented him.

“I’m just trying to get justice for my son,” Clay told reporters.

The lawyers’ exit from the case came about three weeks after Chumney ruled that Morant “enjoys a presumption of civil immunity” from liability under Tennessee law. Morant claimed he acted in self-defense when he punched Holloway after the teen threw a basketball at Morant, which hit the NBA player in the face.

Morant testified during a December hearing that he was worried about getting hurt after the teen bumped him in the chest, balled his fists and got into a fighting stance before Morant punched Holloway.

The NBA player’s lawyers have argued Morant is protected under Tennessee’s “stand your ground” law allowing people who feel threatened at their homes to act with force in certain situations. The law is used in criminal cases, but an earlier ruling by the judge cleared the way for Morant’s lawyers to apply it in the civil case.

A trial had been set in April, but it has been postponed indefinitely.

Morant tore the labrum in his right shoulder in early January, a injury that required surgery, ending a season that started with Morant suspended by the NBA for the first 25 games for a video of the guard flashing a handgun online.

The video showed Morant sitting in the passenger seat of a car and was posted after he finished serving an eight-game suspension in March for another video in which he displayed a handgun in a Denver-area strip club.

Morant apologized for both videos.

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