Emoni Bates is losing in the game of life and basketball


Ypsilanti hoopster Emoni Bates is losing. He is losing money. He is losing draft position, and he is losing his place as a super star in the basketball community.

Bates should have been the top pick in this year’s NBA Draft, not Paolo Banchero. Instead, he is a sophomore at Eastern Michigan University, a step down from Michigan State, where he first committed, and Memphis where he decommitted from.

If that wasn’t enough Bates found himself in more hot water when he was stopped by Washtenaw County Police for a concealed weapons charge and altering identification on a weapon. Bates and his attorney said the gun did not belong to him.

He reached a plea deal with police where the two felony charges were dismissed. EMU reinstated him to the team and all school activities.

So everything is fine, right? Not so fast. He must prove himself all over again. He must prove that he can become a great team player at EMU, not Duke, Michigan State or Michigan. And he must prove to coaches and teammates that he can be trusted.

I’m willing to buy his story. Defenders of Bates will tell you he did nothing wrong. They are only partially right. When you are a high profile athlete like Bates you are scrutinized more than others. That’s why he should be careful and not drive through intersections. And he should have checked the glove box for weapons, drugs and anything else illegal inside a car he was not familiar with.

Players can’t be trusted when they bounce from one school to another. This began in high school when his dad pulled him from Ypsilanti Lincoln to Ypsilanti Prep. It was the first sign of privilege and entitlement.

Then he committed to Michigan State University to play for Coach Tom Izzo. Maybe Bates realized he’d be making a terrible mistake playing for Izzo. Bates is a good player, but his game is so selfish there would be conflict between player and coach.

So he enrolled at Memphis where he couldn’t even play for Penny Hardaway. Back issues slowed him, along with a year of underachievement on the court. Bates left Memphis after one year and enrolled at EMU because he said he wanted to be close to home.

Bates hopes for personal growth

Bates hopes that his mistake inspires others.

“The crazy thing about living your life on stage is the inability to escape judgement, and experience the growing pains of life as a normal adolescent privately,” he said. “I hold myself accountable for making a poor decision, and hope you can forgive me as I grow because this will not be my last mistake, however; a lasting stigma to remind me of the severity of such a mistake.

“I hope my mistake can inspire others to think before acting. Growth is a lifetime experience; I will harness the value within this lesson and continue to be of service to the community.”

Emoni Bates is forgiven and hopefully, he can follow his own advice and use this as a life lesson to help him grow as a man.