(CBS) Having displayed his exceptional baseball talent at a young age and with a career trajectory that’s unprecedented, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant has a firm understanding of the spotlight that comes en route to superstardom.
And it’s with that in mind that Bryant — whose father, Mike, was quite involved and influential in his development — has some advice for Lavar Ball, the outspoken and extremely involved father of UCLA point guard and projected top-three pick Lonzo Ball.
Dial it back a bit.
“You just look at the situation, and you see that obviously he’s a great basketball player, but you’re just putting way too much pressure on him,” Bryant said on the Bernstein and Goff Show on 670 The Score on Wednesday afternoon. “There’s already enough pressure for us as athletes. We want to be the best on the field and do as good as we can. But then when you look your parents and your parents are putting that extra pressure, you just want your parents to support you and be that person that you can go to and just talk to them when you’re struggling and not have to worry about him comparing you to some of the greatest players of all time. You don’t want that pressure on you. I’m sure he thinks his kid is going to do great. Myself, if I was in that situation, I’d definitely say, ‘Dad, chill out, just a little bit please. Just let me go out there and play and try to establish myself and just do what I’ve been doing my whole life and be a basketball player and you just be dad.’ That’s what I’d tell my dad.”
The 25-year-old Bryant made clear that he never had to tell his father that. What Bryant was so thankful for was that Mike never forced him into anything in Bryant’s baseball journey, whether it was playing in a certain league or something as simple as taking batting practice on any given night. Mike put the power in his son’s hands, Bryant said.
The path the Bryant took worked well. He’s the only player in history to win the college player of the year, minor league player of the year, rookie of the year and MVP in consecutive years.
“I’ve always wanted to play the game, but he was never the one to be like, ‘Hey, let’s go at 6 o’clock, hitting in the batting cage,'” Bryant said of his father. “It was always me. He was doing his hitting lessons, and it was 8 o’clock at night, last lesson, and I’d been peaking out the garage door with my helmet and bat. He’d see me, and I was always the one who initiated it and wanted to be the one to play the game. That’s what you need. You need to make this game fun. Anytime you have a parent that forces it on you, it’s never going to end up good.”