Ja Morant has spoken for the first time following his string of recent controversies.
Morant sat down for an interview with ESPN’s Jalen Rose on Wednesday, within hours of the NBA announcing he would be suspended for eight games, including the six games he’s already missed.
After doing a lot of soul searching, Morant said he was in a better place now.
“I feel mentally (better) than I have in many years,” Morant said. “I’m in a space where I’m very comfortable. Honestly, I feel like we put ourselves in that situation with our past mistakes, and now it’s only right that we focus in and lock in on being smarter and more responsible, holding each other accountable for everything.
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“I feel like in the past we didn’t know what was at stake. And now finally me having that time to realize everything, have that time alone, I realize that now. I realize what I have to lose, and for us as a group, what we have to lose. It’s pretty much just that being more responsible, more smarter and staying away from all the bad decisions.”
Morant described his partying at Shotgun Willie’s strip club, where he streamed himself on Instagram Live, as “pretty much just trying to be free.”
“I used that as an escape, which I shouldn’t have,” Morant said of the live streaming. “I feel like that’s the reason I made many bad decisions in my past, which doesn’t pretty much describe me, doesn’t describe Ja as a person. I’m a totally different person than what’s been shown in the media. That’s my job now. That’s why I took that time away, to become a better Ja, so everybody really can see who Ja really is and you know what he’s about.”
He also recently met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
“It was good — pretty much an open discussion,” Morant told ESPN of his meeting with Silver. “Obviously, he said things I need to be better at, but more of just showing his support towards me. I accepted that, and I also sent my apologies to everybody — to the league, myself, my teammates, my family for putting that negativity towards all of us with a bad decision.”
Following the meeting, Silver released the following statement:
“Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous,” said Silver. “It also has serious consequences given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him. He has expressed sincere contrition and remorse for his behavior. Ja has also made it clear to me that he has learned from this incident and that he understands his obligations and responsibility to the Memphis Grizzlies and the broader NBA community extend well beyond his play on the court.”