SANTA ANA (CBSLA) – Criminal charges have been filed against the mother of a 15-year-old girl who sucker-punched an opponent during a youth basketball game last month in Garden Grove.
Latira Shonty Hunt, 44, of La Puente, is accused of provoking her daughter to punch the opponent, the Orange County District Attorney's Office reported Thursday. She has been charged with one count each of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and battery, both misdemeanors.
"It is unconscionable that a parent would encourage her child to engage in violence during a sporting event," Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. "Youth sports are invaluable in teaching our children discipline, teamwork, and sportsmanship. But a win at all costs mentality that is completely devoid of fair play, respect, and civility is disgusting."
The punch, which was caught on cell phone video, occurred on Nov. 7 during a youth club basketball tournament at MAPS sports facility in Garden Grove. The video shows the two players jogging across mid-court, when one suddenly turns and sucker-punches the other. The victim was identified as 15-year-old Lauryn Ham. In the video, Ham hits the floor immediately.
The attack left Ham, who was playing for a club team called "SoCal Blaze," with a bruised neck and concussion.
Hunt is accused of yelling to her daughter, "you better hit her for that" just seconds before the punch, prosecutors allege.
Hunt's daughter, who cannot be named as she is a minor, was playing for the Dream Academy, a Los Angeles-based basketball training organization. She is also the daughter of former NBA player Corey Benjamin. He has had his own trouble with the law after being arrested on domestic violence charges on two separate occasions, in 2000 and 2016.
Following the attack, a second video emerged of the same teen attempting to fight in a game at a basketball tournament in Carson back in September. The video shows the teen attacking two different girls on the opposing team, charging them with arms flailing while simultaneously throwing punches.
If convicted as charged, Hunt faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail.
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