ESPN Condemns LaVar Ball’s ‘Inappropriate’ Remark to Female Host

ESPN has spoken out against Ball in the Family star LaVar Ball after he made an “inappropriate” comment during a Monday appearance on sports talk show First Take.

The network released a statement shortly after Ball seemingly made a sexual innuendo toward host Molly Qerim Rose.

Ball was talking to sports commentator Stephen A. Smith about his son Lonzo Ball’s recent trade from the Los Angeles Lakers to the New Orleans Pelicans, when the conversation appeared to veer off course. That  prompted Qerim Rose to say, “LaVar, can I switch gears with you because I have a question here.” Ball then quipped, “You can switch gears with me anytime.”

Smith appeared visibly stunned by Ball’s remark, while Qerim Rose tried to play it off, telling him “let’s stay focused here.”

Read More: Terry Crews Cancels Touré Interview as Journalist Is Accused of Harassment

Many former ESPN employees expressed shock at Ball’s behavior, with a few taking to Twitter to share their opinions.

Jemele Hill, an ex-ESPN anchor, commended Qerim Rose’s poise in the situation, tweeted:  “Kudos to Molly Querim for the professional way she handled LaVar Ball after his inappropriate comment. Maybe ESPN will have finally learned its lesson about putting him on TV.”

Former ESPN journalist Jeff Goodman, who covered the Ball family in the past, responded to Hill’s post with an apology. “I apologize to everyone for getting him on TV years ago,” he said. “Never ever thought it would get to the point it did (and has) or would never have done so.”

As for ESPN, it released the following statement: “LaVar Ball’s comment to Molly Qerim Rose was completely inappropriate and we made him aware of that.”

Ball’s rep, Denise White, denied any ill intent on her client’s behalf, telling TMZ: “[LaVar] was asked if he wanted to switch gears, in his mind switching gears was ‘changing the subject anytime’ and he said, ‘yes, you can switch gears with me anytime.’ At NO time was that intended or meant to be sexual in nature.”

You can watch the conversation between Ball and Qerim Rose below.