The Los Angeles Times has an explosive story on UCLA Freshman Shabazz Muhammad and his father, Ron Holmes. Holmes makes Marv Marinovich, the former USC football player who basically raised his son Todd to be a professional athlete, look disorganized and uncalculating. Holmes, like Marinovich, also played collegiate sports at USC (as a basketball player in the early 80′s).
According to the story, Holmes was fascinated with thoroughbred breeding, and even commented to a friend when he first saw his wife, a track athlete and basketball player at Long Beach State, that they would make All-Americans together. He even picked his children’s names based on what would sound good and be marketable. Much of his life has been devoted to manipulating and navigating through big time sports for his son, Shabazz, working the system to gain every advantage.
Included among those is the most shocking revelation of the piece: Shabazz Muhammad is older. The UCLA media guide lists him as 19, with a date of birth of Nov. 13, 1993. The Times found birth records that show he is exactly one year older, a 20 year old freshman. When confronted with this information, Holmes initially denied it, then admitted it, but questioned the newsworthiness to the reporter. He then sent the following text to the reporter:
“Bazz is going to blow up in the NBA lets team up and blow this thing up!!! I’m going to need a publicist anyway why shouldn’t it be you. We can do some big things together.”
Holmes also carefully handled the PR around his son’s suspension, and leaking information that called into question the NCAA’s evenhandedness when Shabazz was suspended back in November.
It’s an amazing piece of reporting. The biggest news is the age thing. Shabazz is the same age as many juniors playing this year, and the family appears to have hidden or misrepresented that fact in elevating his status. Buyer Beware, NBA General Managers.
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* Shabazz Muhammad Declared Ineligible by the NCAA to Play at UCLA [UPDATE: Statement from NCAA]
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