Los Angeles Lakers star Lonzo Ball and his family are in the center of controversy once again. This time, however, they are the victims.

News broke out Friday that Lonzo has severed ties with Alan Foster, a long-time friend of LaVar Ball and co-founder of Big Baller Brand, due to his alleged involvement with the missing $1.5 million from the player's personal and business accounts.

In an interview with Ramona Shelburne and Paula Lavigne of ESPN, Lonzo said that Foster “used his access to my business and personal finances to enrich himself. As a result, I have decided to sever all ties with Alan, effective immediately.”

Close relationship

Foster had a strong relationship with the Balls, with their friendship dating way back in 2010. Lonzo Ball and Foster's son — both seventh-graders back then — became friends, paving the way for LaVar Ball and Alan to develop a close bond.

In fact, LaVar has said in recent years that it was Foster who convinced him to start the Big Baller Brand — which they eventually co-founded. Foster has since served as the business manager of all of the Ball family's companies and reportedly owns a 16.3 percent stake in BBB.

LaVar has nothing but praise for Alan, even saying in a 2017 interview for ESPN The Magazine that Foster is one of the “smartest” guys he know.

“This dude is one of the smartest suckers ever,” LaVar Ball said. “He knows how everything goes. We had shirts made that said ‘Team Ball' [and] ‘UnbelievaBall.' And he [Foster] said, ‘LaVar, your creativity is crazy. Let's create your brand, man. Your brand is bigger than anything. Somebody going to run away with your s—, man.'

“He [Foster] was like, ‘I'll tell you what. You're going to put all the work in with your boys. I'll come back and run the agency. Whatever you need me to do. Let me do it, though.'”

Suspicions raised

According to reports, Lonzo's financial advisor, Humble Lukanga, first raised concerns about Foster’s business decisions and communications last fall. Lukanga argued in October that the personal taxes of Ball and business taxes of Big Baller Brand could not be completed on time because of the Ball family’s inability to account for the whereabouts of $1.5 million of earned income.

Lukanga even sent an urgent email to Lonzo and LaVar raising the question about the the missing $1.5 million which was withdrawn in cash and can't be tracked. The financial advisor also argued that he knows for a fact that Lonzo wouldn't withdraw millions in cash.

“Urgent – $1.5 million Dollars Missing,” Lukanga wrote in his email sent to Zo and his father after he had been unsuccessful in having Foster “track down where $1.5 MILLION DOLLARS IN CASH HAS [gone].”

Lukanga wrote that he had repeatedly asked Foster about transactions totaling that amount, but Foster “won't show any invoices or documentation of these expenses. He won't even give me the number to the vendors he says he paid. I'VE NEVER SEEN A COMPANY OPERATE BY WITHDRAWING MILLIONS IN CASH … Only you and Alan can withdraw cash and I know you didn't take out $1.5 million dollars … SO WHERE IS THE MONEY???”

Foster's controversial background

Additional light was shed on Foster's purported financial wrongdoing earlier this month. In an interview, Lonzo Ball was asked if he was aware of Foster's criminal past: a seven-year prison sentence after he plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering due to his role in a scheme that defrauded investors of $4 million.

In response to learning of Foster's past, Lonzo reportedly raised his worries about Foster's involvement in the family business empire once again.

At the same time, Darren Moore, Lonzo Ball's personal business manager, alerted Lonzo and Lukanga to additional potential illegal activity by Foster related to taxable income from the Balls' popular Facebook Watch reality series, “Ball In the Family.” Moore told ESPN that despite his best efforts to reach out to Foster to discuss about whether expenses related to and revenue earned from the web series had been allocated properly, he was unable to get in contact with Foster.

LaVar Ball, who reportedly ignored initial questions asked about Foster’s potential illicit activity and didn’t review allegedly inculpatory documents until last week, issued a statement to ESPN condemning his friend and former business partner.

“I’ve always believed in the best in people. Regretfully, I put my complete trust in Alan Foster to manage my son’s business affairs,” he said. “At the end of the day, family comes first, and I support Zo wholeheartedly. Together, we will make this right.”

In a statement, Moore condemned Foster's actions while showing support for the young Lakers star.

“Ian Foster was more than a trusted adviser,” he said. “He was a mentor, a father figure and someone Lonzo and I respected, loved and listened to. … I'm proud of Lonzo for waking up and taking back his power. Together, we will fight for justice.”

Big Baller Brand received a failing grade from the Better Business Bureau in 2018. The Federal Trade Commission, meanwhile, reportedly fielded approximately 200 complaints about Big Baller Brand from April 2017 to January of this year.