On the morning his son and namesake signed to play college football, Karl Malone cried.
"Like a baby," he says. "I’m not going to lie."
» Karl Malone spent 18 years with the Utah Jazz and is a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
» K.J. Malone is the son of Karl and Kay Malone. He officially signed last week to play football at LSU.
» K.J. Malone is an offensive lineman who was widely recruited. Among his suitors: the University of Utah.
Malone, of course, spent 18 seasons as a tough-as-nails power forward with the Utah Jazz. A Hall of Famer and 14-time All-Star, he remains the No. 2 scorer in NBA history.
Karl Malone Jr. — also known as K.J. — is a senior at Cedar Creek High School in Ruston, La. He was one of the top football recruits in the country before signing last week with LSU.
The entire family attended the news conference called to announce K.J. Malone’s final decision, which created a whirlwind of emotions for his parents.
"The first thing I thought about," Karl Malone said, "was the day he was born. Then I thought about the day he started playing football."
Then, the tears.
Recalling what she felt during her son’s signing ceremony, Kay Malone said, "We had never been through the [recruiting] process and, to finally have it end, it was like a weight lifted off our shoulders. …
"I remembered all the work K.J. put in — all the long nights, when we talked to him about winning and losing and everything else. It was just very emotional for everybody."
K.J. Malone is a 6-foot-4, 300-pound offensive lineman who played football and basketball into junior high. But he knew "by fourth grade" that pancaking defensive linemen would be the focus of his future.
"I’m just very blessed," said K.J. Malone, who is as soft-spoken as his father is gregarious.
"I’m ecstatic he’s playing football, not basketball," Karl Malone said. "With his last name, it’s already going to be a little unfair. And if he was playing basketball, what could he have done to change that?"
After not playing much as a high school freshman, K.J. Malone slowly emerged into a three-star recruit, according to Rivals.com. He was considered one of the top 35 prospects in football-rich Louisiana and was recruited by schools throughout the country, including Utah.
"Those [coaches] were great," Karl Malone said. "It just didn’t work out."
When the family visited LSU nearly a year ago, his parents came away secretly hoping their son would choose the school, located only 220 miles from Ruston.
K.J. Malone obliged by giving Tiger coach Les Miles a nonbinding oral commitment in March.
"When we met the coaching staff and the network people at LSU," Karl Malone said, "we knew right away that was where we wanted him to go. We didn’t say anything. He had to make up his own mind. But we knew."
Karl Malone attended Louisiana Tech, so the jump to becoming an LSU fan creates a mild dilemma.
"I haven’t started wearing any LSU stuff yet," he said, laughing. "I’m going to ease into it."
At LSU, K.J. Malone is part of a recruiting class that has been ranked among the top 10 by every scouting service and college football website.
ESPN rated K.J. Malone as the No. 23 offensive guard prospect in the country, although his new coaches plan to move him to center.Next Page >
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