NBC Sports

Former Bulls player apologizes for daughter's sucker punch

NBC Sports

Former Chicago Bulls player Corey Benjamin was apologizing on his daughter's behalf after the teen was caught on camera punching a 15-year-old opponent, knocking her to the ground and leaving her with a concussion, during a basketball tournament in California over the weekend.

Benjamin was not at his daughter’s game but the former NBA player told NBCLA that when he saw the video, he was saddened.

"This is not how I raised my daughter," he said.

"To the young lady who was punched by my daughter during a youth basketball game, I sincerely apologize to you and I am praying for your complete healing both physically and emotionally," he said. "To her family, I deeply apologize and regret that this happened to your daughter as she did not deserve this to happen to her. Finally, I apologize to all of those who have been impacted and hurt by the actions of my daughter as well as those of her mother. I am here for your family and wish only the best for you. 

"As a father, I’m shocked and disappointed at my daughter’s behavior as this is not a reflection of the values and standards that my family holds. Nor does it exemplify the values, character and spirit of sportsmanship that the game of basketball requires. My daughter made a mistake. One that she will need to make right. I am committed to getting my daughter any help she may need and support her in taking accountability for her conduct."

 

Benjamin was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft, and played for there until 2003.

Kevin Hahn, an attorney representing the victim, Lauryn Ham, said this is about more than one teenager hitting another player during the game in Garden Grove.

"Well, that's a start. I mean we want the parties responsible to be held accountable," Hahn said of the apology.

It was the second and final game of the fall jamboree tournament at the Map Sports Facility on Sunday.

The SoCal Blaze team was up by at least 15 points when a player on the Dream Academy team tried for a 3-point shot but missed.

Moments later, shocking video shows the same player taking a swing at the other team’s 15-year old guard, later identified as Lauryn Ham.

As soon as the punch is thrown, and the girl who was struck hit the floor, the referee's whistle can be heard blaring over the footage.

The referee told NBCLA the other girl's mother allegedly said to her daughter, "You better go hit her."

According to the coach for the SoCal Blaze, Benjamin's daughter was ejected from the gym, and the game was ended.

"The most shocking and outrageous part is to hear the mother instruct her daughter to go hit her for that, and that's unfathomable," Hahn said.

Hahn said there was another incident involving Benjamin’s daughter in September. In that case, the girl swung at two different players during a tournament game as parents and refs ran to the floor.

"My understanding is that organization that held the tournament banned her and suspended her from any other tournaments in their organization," Hahn said.

He says it’s possible the group putting on the Orange County tournament wasn’t aware of the suspension.

Lauryn Ham, a sophomore guard, started playing ball in second grade. Her mother says she still loves the game.

Alice Ham, the victim's mother, said she considers the punch an assault and has filed a police report.

The attorney for Lauryn Ham says the family wants to see both mother and daughter prosecuted.

NBCLA reached out to the tournament organizers at the Antelope Valley Athletic Club but got no response.

NBCLA is not publishing Benjamin's daughter's first name because she is underage.