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That time LaVar Ball was a 'cocky' nobody on Jets' camp roster

Before he fathered three basketball-playing boys and became a polarizing hype machine because of his brash personality, LaVar Ball was a training-camp body for the New York Jets in the summers of 1994 and 1995.

Yes, the man who said recently he could've whipped Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one was once an NFL wannabe who occupied the bottom of the Jets' depth chart in a couple of training camps.

In 1994, under coach Pete Carroll, Ball played defensive end and wore No. 99. He didn't make it out of camp.

In 1995, under Rich Kotite, Ball returned as a tight end, wearing No. 47. Different position, same fate.

It's unclear if he ever got into a preseason game, but this much we know: Ball never appeared in a regular-season game, although he did get his mug shot and free-agent bio in the '94 and '95 media guides.

He has gone from a historical footnote to a crazy dad/media blowhard, proclaiming that his oldest son -- UCLA star Lonzo Ball -- will be a transcendent player in the NBA.

Boomer Esiason, the Jets' quarterback from 1993 to 1995, said he has "no recollection" of Ball. Former linebacker Marvin Jones does.

"I remember LaVar Ball very well," he said. "He was a very athletic guy and raw. I remember him very well because he played only one year of college football. I remember a very confident guy and, yes, he voiced his opinion and was cocky, but overall seemed like a great guy."

Ball was 25 when he first signed with the Jets -- May 1, 1994. He played one year of football at Long Beach City College. Prior to that, he bounced around as a basketball player, going from Washington State to West LA College to Cal State-Los Angeles.

Evidently, the Jets saw something in Ball, who was listed as 6-foot-5, 263 pounds in the '94 media guide. He was described in his bio as a criminal justice major "who one day hopes to become a U.S. Marshall."

The Jets were solid at defensive end, with Jeff Lageman and Marvin Washington, so Ball was the longest of long shots. He was released Aug. 22, but was re-signed the following March 7 and assigned to the London Monarchs of the World League.

Upon returning, Ball dropped nine pounds and tried to make the team as a tight end, but the Jets went three deep with No. 1 pick Kyle Brady, former No. 1 pick Johnny Mitchell and Fred Baxter.

The Kotite-led Jets were willing to take chances on unheralded players -- ever hear of Wayne Chrebet? -- but apparently didn't see the same potential in Ball, who was released. The exact date couldn't be found, but he surfaced on the Carolina Panthers' practice squad from September to November, according to the Charlotte Observer.

So, yes, Ball earned a few bucks playing football, peanuts compared to the $1 billion he envisions for his sons in a combined shoe contract.

Or so he claims.