Photo credit: tmz.com
By: Ana Kieu
TMZ Sports first reported female sports reporter Kelli Tennant’s lawsuit against current Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton on Monday night. Sure, it may seem like just another headline among the tabloids, but sexual assault isn’t a joke, it’s a serious issue that has to be addressed in the general public. Some accusations may not be true, but about this accusation, we’ll have to wait and see if it turns out to be true.
Walton was hired by the Kings on April 14th. That, my friends, was only eight days ago. Before joining the Kings, Walton served as the Los Angeles Lakers head coach from 2016-19, Golden State Warriors assistant coach from 2014-16, Los Angeles D-Fenders player development coach from 2013-14 and Memphis Tigers assistant coach in 2011. Walton played in the NBA from 2003-13 after being a second-round draft pick at the 2003 NBA Draft. Walton played NCAA basketball at Arizona from 1999-2003.
Kelli Tennant is a host for the Ceremony Wellness podcast and a sports reporter who has worked for ESPN, PAC12, E! News, Fox Sports, Spectrum Sportsnet, and SportsNet LA. Tennant is a Temecula, Calif. native whose alma mater is the University of Southern California. Tennant played NCAA volleyball at USC for two seasons.
According to TMZ, Kelli Tennant claimed that before Walton became the Lakers head coach, he asked her to meet him at his Santa Monica hotel to discuss a book she was writing. She says they had a business relationship for several years and she wanted him to write a foreword.
In the suit, Tennant said when she arrived at Walton’s hotel, he convinced her to come up to his room so they could discuss the book. She claims when they got up to his room, Walton suddenly pinned her to the bed, placing his hips and legs over her body.
In the docs, Tennant claimed Walton began forcing kisses on her neck, face and chest. She claimed she screamed for him to stop and tried to free herself, but he held her down, groped her breasts and groin, and rubbed his erection on her leg.
Tennant says he eventually relented and let her get up from the bed, but as she was walking towards the door to leave, he grabbed her from behind and forced his body up against hers.
Tennant claimed when Walton finally released his grasp, she opened the door and left, but could hear him say, “Good to see you.”
Tennant claimed she did not initially report Walton’s conduct, but was forced to continually interact with him because of her job. She saied each time she saw him, he’d impose himself on her with a big hug or a kiss, even though she thought she made it clear his advances were unwanted.
In the suit, Tennant claimed on one occasion, Walton greeted her by uttering, “vulgar, guttural sounds at her” and said, “Mmmm…you’re killing me in that dress.” She says he then forced an aggressive hug on her and rubbed his body against hers.
While it’s unclear what exactly promoted Tennant to come forward, I can reassure you that the Kings are in damage control mode right now. Walton hasn’t released a statement, and it’s unclear if he’ll comment on anything. The Kings haven’t commented on the matter either. Sam Amick of The Athletic tweeted, “The Kings have issued a statement regarding sexual assault allegations against their new coach, Luke Walton, as reported by TMZ. We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time.”