With 5.7 million followers on Instagram, LaMelo Ball, newly drafted by the Hornets, will soon be one of the biggest influencers in Charlotte. Second only to DaBaby.
Why it matters: Depending on how Ball, a 6-foot-7 point guard, uses his influence, he could elevate the city’s tourism, help small businesses, and amplify local issues. For example, Charlotte rapper DaBaby, who has a whopping 15 million followers, used his platform to get out the vote with free Lyft rides and surprise appearances on Election Day.
But even Ball living here is a big deal. “Charlotte is getting cooler, and this is just a proof point,” says Corri Smith, owner of the marketing firm Black Wednesday and a local expert on social media.
How did he get so famous? I first heard of the Ball family on Saturday Night Live. Kenan Thompson played the eccentric LaVar Ball in a reoccurring bit talking about his relationship with Hornets owner Michael Jordan and with his three sons: Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo, who now all play in the NBA.
- LaMelo, 19, is the youngest of the three. When he was just 16, he signed with a professional basketball team in Lithuania. That made headlines.
- He then skipped college basketball and signed with the Los Angeles Ballers within the Junior Basketball Association, a league his father started. Since then, he played professionally in Australia, and that brings us up to present day.
- Talent paired with LaVar: The Ball brothers are uber talented, all currently drafted in NBA. But their climb to fame also has a lot to do with their father’s personality and his outlandish comments, including the time he said he could beat Michael Jordan. (LaMelo said on Wednesday it’s a “straight blessing” to play for Jordan.)
Who are Charlotte’s other big names on the ‘gram?
LaMelo has more Instagram followers than every pro and semi-pro sports team in Charlotte combined. Here’s my un-scientific ranking of the other biggest accounts in Charlotte, all of which dwarf the Agenda’s 231,000 followers.
(1) DaBaby, rapper – 15M
(2) LaMelo Ball, Hornets point guard – 5.7M
(3) Olivia Culpo, model – 4.7M
(4) Steven Furtick, Elevation Church pastor – 3.1M
(5, tie) Panthers – 1.7M
(5, tie) Nick Kosir, meteorologist with dance moves – 1.7M
[Related Agenda guide: How to spend the weekend in Charlotte with FOX 46 meteorologist Nick Kosir]
(7) Christian McCaffrey, Panthers running back and dating Olivia Culpo – 1.4M
(8) Hornets – 1.3M
(9) Dale Earnhardt Jr., race car driver – 853K
(10) Emily Maynard Johnson, former Bachelorette – 654K
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