What is Ja Morant’s Real Name?

Ja Morant is a rising NBA star. He also, like quite a few NBA players, doesn’t go by his real name. Ja is a nickname he’s been using for years, but it’s not the same one he was born with. 

Below, I’ll look at a series of nicknames in the NBA and study how they came to be. That, combined with a breakdown of Morant’s own nickname, will shed light on monikers all around the league.

His True Name

Ja Morant was born as Temetrius Jamel Morant on August 10th, 1999 in the small town of Dalzell, South Carolina. While he went by Temetrius early on, it wasn’t long before he started to be known by “Ja.” That abbreviation was simply a shortened version of his middle name.

Though it’s unclear why he changed his name or why he adopted his middle name over his first one, it’s likely because Ja is much easier to both say and remember than the much longer Temetrius. There are no easy ways to shorten Temetrius, either. Jamel is simpler to work with.

What’s in a Name?

Morant’s case of shortening his name to something else or using part of one of his names, is not an uncommon occurrence in the NBA. There are many players who don’t go by their real name, and almost all of them are abbreviations that make calling them on the court easier.

For instance, CJ McCollum’s real name is Christian McCollum, while PJ Tucker’s is Anthony Tucker. TJ Warren was born as Anthony Warren and Khris Middleton, similar to Ja, uses an abbreviation of his middle name (Khristian) rather than his first one (James).

Perhaps the most famous example of an NBA switch is Stephen Curry. While he’s known by his middle name, his first name is actually Wardell. Shaq and Charles “Chuck” Barkely are two other well known cases of that trend.

Every player has personal reasons for going by a different name, but it’s often just because it’s easier or they like it a bit more. 

Popular NBA Nicknames

There are two forms of nicknames in the NBA. You have the ones, like with Morant, Curry, McCollum, that are different name variations many fans aren’t aware are nicknames. Then, you have players known by something else completely.

The most famous example of someone adopting a completely different name is Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Dr. J is another one too. In today’s NBA there are a good number of popular players who have freely adopted their third-party nicknames.

Giannis Antetokounmpo goes by “The Freak”, Nikola Jokic goes by “The Joker,” and Donovan Mitchell goes by “The Spider.” There are many more examples, but typically only large or high profile players get a nickname like that.

Morant is certainly a big name, but he doesn’t have his own nickname just yet. However, if he keeps playing at his high potential, it’s likely only a matter of time.

Final Words

Ja may not be Morant’s name, but it’s a big part of his identity now. More than that, it’s the way everyone knows him. It doesn’t matter what a person’s true name is on the national stage, it just matters what everyone calls them.

Morant is one example of a pretty big trend within the NBA, where a player will shift their name to something slightly off the one they already have. It’s not something that happens a lot, and there isn’t always a big reason behind it, but Ja is certainly not as long as Temetrius. 

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