Lonzo Ball greeted a group of fathers as he made his way through Carter’s on North Halsted on Wednesday afternoon.
The Chicago Bulls point guard discussed fatherhood, posed for photos with the dads and did some browsing of his own while passing along some holiday cheer.
Ball held a holiday giveback at the children’s apparel store. Personal helpers aided seven fathers, who were gifted $400 to spend in the store.
“I have a daughter, and Christmastime is for the kids,” Ball said. “To be able to help, give back and make their day a little brighter, I feel like that’s my job.”
The dads also received toys and a Bulls swag bag.
“Just really appreciate Lonzo for taking the time to support our fathers in this way,” said Dr. Clinton Boyd Jr., the executive director of Fathers, Families and Healthy Communities. “It’s meaningful to them.”
Ball worked with the Bulls in coordinating the event.
“They brought this to me, I thought this was perfect,” he said. “Christmastime you want to bring as much joy as you can to your children. For me to be able to help, that’s just my responsibility.
“The holiday is all about laughter and being with your family and having a good time. This starts it off right.”
Ball continues to rehab with the goal of returning to the Bulls starting lineup this season. He underwent an arthroscopic debridement in his left knee in late September to assess and remove a previously unidentified source of lingering pain after a meniscus injury and surgery in January.
“It’s day by day,” Ball said. “I’m trying to remain positive and just keep getting better, even if it’s an inch better every day. Just try not to move backward.
“Still rehabbing. It’s been a crazy journey, crazy therapy. Just trying to get back on the court. Unfortunately I’m not there yet, but we’re working every day.”
Ball, who last appeared in a game Jan. 14, said day-to-day tasks are getting better.
“Last couple of weeks I’m finally seeing some improvement, which is nice,” he said. “It’s still not where I want to be, but it’s definitely a positive light at the end of the tunnel.”
He has leaned on his family, friends and teammates through the process.
“From my point of view, I would love to be out there with them in the battle every night,” Ball said. “The personalities that we have on the team, the staff and my close friends and family — everybody — I’ve got with me on my side. As far as the mental thing, I’m fine. I just want to get out there and play.”
He has done some spot shooting.
“I finally got to touch the ball,” Ball said with a smile. “Felt like I haven’t played in so long. The shot’s not going anywhere, now it’s about getting the legs right.
“I can’t give you a specific timeline when I’ll be back. I’m still a ways out, unfortunately. But I’m touching the ball finally, on the court doing some things.”
The Bulls — 11th in the Eastern Conference entering Wednesday with an 12-18 record — are missing Ball, who averaged 13 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals in 35 games last season. And Ball is missing the action.
“I’m not going to lie — it’s hard for me,” he said. “It’s very hard for me. I think we have a great team and I know the things I can do to help the team out, but unfortunately I’m not on the court right now.”
Ball said the rehab has included “a lot of mobility stuff.”
“Just trying to work through the pain,” he said. “The pain is there. Pretty sure it’s going to be there. Just figuring out how we can get through to a point to where I can produce on the court.”
Wednesday provided an example of how Ball is finding more ways to make an impact.
“For so many of our guys the holiday can be a point of contention and great stress for them, just because of that inability to financially support their children in ways that are personally meaningful to them,” Boyd said. “Having someone come in and offset or completely cover those holiday expenses for our guys is something that is really touching and moving.”
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