Ball is the father of UCLA basketball player Lonzo Ball and Chino Hills High School basketball players LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball. He drew widespread media attention upon his sons' rise to popularity in 2016 and due to a series of controversial claims he made in 2017. Currently, he is the owner of Big Baller Brand.
Ball was born on October 23, 1968 and was brought up in South Los Angeles, California. He has four brothers, named LaFrance, LaValle, LaRenzo, and LaShon. LaVar attended Canoga Park High School in Canoga Park, Los Angeles, where he was a prominent quarterback on the football team and played basketball as a forward. In one season, Ball grabbed a total of 316 rebounds to break the school record. He stood 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) and weighed 225 lbs (102 kg) by college.
Ball first began playing college basketball at West Los Angeles College despite having little experience at the prep level. In the season opener in 1986, he recorded 33 points and 18 rebounds against Porterville College. Ball then transferred to Washington State and became a starting forward. In 36 games for the Cougars, he averaged 2.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game. After one season, Ball transferred again to Cal State Los Angeles, who competed in the NCAA Division II.
Following college, Ball was invited to a football tryout and eventually made a return to the sport. On March 7, 1995, he signed with the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL) as a tight end and was immediately loaned to the London Monarchs of the World League of American Football (WLAF). In the 1995 season for the Monarchs, Ball recorded 28 yards in kick returns. During his NFL career, he was also a part of the practice squads of the Jets and Carolina Panthers.
After his youngest son LaMelo reached four years of age, Ball began training all of his sons to play basketball. They were taught many skills by their father and later played for his Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team, Big Ballers VXT. For a relatively short period of time in their childhoods, LaVar also had them play flag football, with Lonzo playing quarterback and his other sons catching passes. Following an illustrious career at Chino Hills High School in Chino Hills, California, Lonzo became a star at UCLA. LaVar's younger sons play at the same high school and are both committed to UCLA.
Ball has often received criticism of his influence on the family's public image for making controversial comments. In early March 2017, he remarked that Lonzo was a better player than Stephen Curry. Later in the month, he asserted that Lonzo was better than LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. On March 14, despite having averaged only 2.2 points per game at Washington State, he said, "Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one." Charles Barkley responded to the claims and challenged Ball to play one-on-one. LaVar additionally said that he believed his three sons would be worth $1 billion for a shoe deal. USA Today labeled his comments as an "endless string of interviews full of cocky claims and premature promises, coupled with insults." Steve Kerr praised LaVar for gaining publicity but questioned his effect on his sons. On Twitter, many users mocked Ball's perceivably exaggerated claims by using the hashtag "LaVar Ball Says" and making their own such statements.