Paul Pierce defends Ja Morant for posing with gun during Instagram Live video

"When u black and rich u a target period," Pierce tweeted.

Former Celtics star Paul Pierce takes in Celtics-Lakers earlier this season. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Since Ja Morant live-streamed himself posing with an alleged firearm on Instagram, the Grizzlies’ All-Star point guard has faced plenty of criticism and controversy.

The Grizzlies initially announced that Morant will be away from the team for at least two games. On Sunday, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said there isn’t a timetable for Morant’s return as he undergoes a “healing process.”

Some, including Former Celtics forward Paul Pierce, mentioned how they can empathize with Morant.

Pierce tweeted that he doesn’t care what Morant’s critics have to say because they don’t know what it feels like to be in Morant’s shoes.


“I don’t care what y’all say about Ja,” Pierce tweeted. “I carried a gun after I was stabbed y’all don’t know what he going thru everyone got something to say until u really know what’s really going on in someone life when u black and rich u a target period.”

Pierce is far from the only former athlete who can relate to Morant. ESPN’s Jalen Rose said “I am Ja Morant” during an impassioned speech on NBA Countdown where he explained how long it took for him to mature into the man he is today.

But, he also acknowledged the dangers that could come with Morant’s actions.

“You have to choose wisely. He has way too much to lose,” Rose said. “Trust me, I’ve been that young player carrying a gun. And [ESPN’s Michael] Wilbon alluded to this. When you start waving it, that can get you killed. That’s an entirely different thing than we’re talking about [how] a superstar athlete should be putting themselves in position.”

Morant, 23, is facing a growing list of accusations.

According to the Washington Post, a police report stated that Morant punched a teenager more than a dozen times and flashed a gun during a pickup basketball game. That same week, he allegedly threatened a store manager at a Memphis mall.


Earlier this season, the NBA investigated Morant’s involvement in a postgame incident which involved a red laser being pointed at the Indiana Pacers’ team bus. According to The Athletic, a Pacers security guard said: “That’s 100 percent a gun.”

But, it was the Instagram Live video that seemed to force Memphis to address Morant’s issues publicly.

“Obviously nationwide, leaguewide, there’s been a lot of attention on gun violence,” Jenkins said. “And so for us, that’s the stance that we’ve taken about how we can support Ja throughout this growth opportunity. It’s a learning opportunity, and hopefully we can be better from it.”

Morant has since deactivated his Twitter and Instagram accounts and has released an apology.

“I take full responsibility for my actions [Friday night],” Morant said. “I’m sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire Grizzlies organization for letting you down. I’m going to take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being.”


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