A California woman has been charged after she was caught on camera encouraging her 14 year-old daughter to sucker-punch a 15 year-old rival during a school basketball game last month.
Latyra Shonty Hunt, 44, can be seen on cell phone video recorded at a game last month yelling ‘you better hit her for that’ before her daughter attacks her opponent, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said Thursday.
The blow crumpled 15-year-old victim Lauryn Ham ‘to the floor like a rag doll,’ Spitzer said. The girl suffered a concussion, according to her family’s lawyer.
Hunt is charged with two misdemeanors – contributing to the delinquency of a minor and battery – and faces up to a year in jail if convicted.
She shares her daughter with her ex, former NBA player Corey Benjamin, 43, who was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1998.
Hunt and her daughter, who isn’t being named because she’s a minor, have also since been banned from the Map Sports Facility in Garden Grove, south of Los Angeles, where the attack took place in November.
In the video, posted by Lauryn’s mom, Alice Ham, both girls walk down the court before the 14 year-old girl attacker catches Lauryn by surprise after faking an injury while standing close to her.
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Latyra Shonty Hunt (right) was caught on cell phone video yelling ‘you better hit her for that’ before her daughter attacked her opponent, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said
The blow crumpled 15-year-old victim Lauryn Ham ‘to the floor like a rag doll,’ Spitzer said. The girl suffered a concussion, according to her family’s lawyer
Alice Ham (right) said in November that she believed the other player would have never attacked her 15-year-old daughter Lauryn (left), had Hunt not provoked her daughter to do so
The girl was filmed swinging a hard punch into Lauryn’s chin and throat.
Lauryn was knocked out and tumbled to the floor, with the force of the blow causing her to suffer a concussion.
The girl had also been recorded punching a different opponent in September.
‘In my opinion it would have not happened, but for mom’s words,’ Spitzer said of the most recent attack, adding that Hunt’s words ‘were the catalyst’ that caused her daughter ‘to even think about’ punching the other girl.
After the attack, Benjamin issued an apology to Lauryn and her family, saying his daughter’s actions shocked him and did not represent the values he had instilled in her.
‘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,’ the statement read.
Ham wasn’t there for the attack, but says the attacker’s mom had told her child to ‘go and hit’ her daughter moments before the attack took place.
‘THIS… this right here makes me SICK to my stomach. This happened to MY DAUGHTER at her game yesterday. There is absolutely no place for something like this in basketball, I don’t care how famous you are!!’ Alice Ham posted on her Instagram account @hammyalice.
‘This mom told her daughter to ‘go and hit her’ and my kid gets an unprovoked sucker punch. I’m sorry but it’s everything that’s wrong with youth sports. The girl and her mom showed absolutely no remorse and offered no apology. Youth sports needs to change.’
Alice said in November that she believed the other player would have never attacked her daughter, had her mother not provoked her to do so, as seen in the footage.
‘I can hear pretty clearly the mom (in the video). I know it’s the mom because the witnesses at the site told me,’ Alice said. ‘It’s pretty clear that she tells her daughter you have to hit her for that. What ‘that’ is, I don’t know. I don’t know what the mom thinks she saw.’
Hunt, 44, is charged with two misdemeanors: contributing to the delinquency of a minor and battery. She faces up to a year in jail if convicted. She and her daughter have since been banned from The Map Sports Facility
Video captured during a youth basketball game in Garden Grove, California, shows 15-year-old girl Lauryn Ham getting sucker-punched in the face by a fellow player, believed to be the daughter of a former NBA player, on Sunday
The incident happened in November, during a girls youth basketball league game at The Map Sports Facility in the city of Garden Grove, 35 miles outside of Los Angeles
‘I want the daughter and the mom held accountable,’ she said. ‘Because this type of behavior is reprehensible and cannot happen in youth sports.’
‘It can’t happen outside of youth sports. If this was taken out of the context and it happens on the street, it rises to the level of assault and battery. This is exactly what it is. The mom incites violence upon my child. And that is never OK. I want the mom to be held accountable for her actions,’ Ham told ABC7.
Richard Kaplan, a Los Angeles defense attorney not involved with this case, called the charges against Hunt ‘a stretch.’
Kaplan predicted that it will be difficult for prosecutors to prove that Hunt’s outburst was a command and not just ‘an emotional response in a heated moment.’
NBA player Corey Benjamin issued an apology shortly after he saw the video of the game. His pro career included stints with the Chicago Bulls, the Atlanta Hawks and overseas teams.
‘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,’ Benjamin said in a statement at the time.
NBA player Corey Benjamin issued an apology shortly after he saw the video of the game. His pro career included stints with the Chicago Bulls, the Atlanta Hawks and overseas teams
Ham’s lawyer, Kevin Hahn, said the family is ‘pleased with the DA’s decision to charge the mother. We think it’s warranted given the facts.’
Spitzer said the punch came following a physical turnover play during which Hunt’s daughter tried to block a shot and the other girl fell to the ground after attempting to score.
‘The ball now has changed hands and they’re going back to the other basket,’ Spitzer said, and that’s when he said Hunt encouraged her daughter to hit the other girl.
Spitzer added that he is the parent of two student-athletes and has witnessed plenty parents yelling and screaming from the stands, but not to the point of instigating an attack.
‘I’ve never seen a parent encourage another child who is competing against my kid or any other player to engage in violence,’ he said.
If prosecutors are unable to prove that Hunt has a history of similar behavior, Kaplan said a judge might choose to dismiss the case and order Hunt into a diversion program, such as anger management classes.
‘Obviously it was an inappropriate thing to say, but was it really intended to cause harm?’ Kaplan asked.