Lawsuit Request Implies Zion Williamson Had Illegal Benefits


A request filed in a lawsuit against Zion Williamson strongly implies that he received illegal benefits to choose a college and shoe company.

Williamson is being sued by Gina Ford, his former marketing agent. Williamson sued to end his agreement with Ford and Prime Sports Marketing, claiming that the contract is void and illegal under North Carolina law. He eventually signed with CAA Sports.

Ford filed a complaint last June demanding $100 million in damages from Williamson.

As Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann noted last year, "Ford hopes Williamson will pay a hefty price for what she depicts as Williamson and CAA conspiring to steal her work and brazenly breach a contract that Williamson had willingly signed."

Here's McCann's breakdown of the case, including Sunday's developments.

A request for admissions document from the case has been made public and was reported by The Athletic's legal analyst Daniel Wallach.

The request asks him to admit that he, and family members, received “money, benefits, favors or other things of value” to attend Duke University and to wear and/or use Nike and Adidas.

Specific bullet points in the document include:

• Admit that you knew that Sharonda Sampson demanded and received gifts and economic benefits from persons acting on behalf of Duke University (directly and/or indirectly) to influence you to attend Duke University to play basketball.

Sampson is Williamson’s mother. Another similarly worded bullet point claims that she received “gifts, money and/or other benefits” from Duke boosters.

Another claims that Sampson received “gifts, money and/or other benefits from persons on behalf of Nike” to influence Williamson to play at Duke. The request also charges Sampson with receiving money, gifts or benefits from Adidas to get Williamson to wear that company’s shoes.

Lee Anderson, Williamson’s step-father, was also named in several bullet points and charged with many of the same things as Sampson.

In addition, the request asks Williamson to admit that people acting on his behalf “received gifts, money and/or other benefits from persons other that NCAA certified agents between 1-1-2014 and 04-14-2019.”

Requests for admission are part of the discovery process in a trial. They’re essentially true/false questions that must be responded to by the party. Williamson can either admit or deny each statement or state that he can’t admit or deny it (i.e. he doesn’t know for sure). His attorneys can also object to the statements for any number of reasons.

The requests are intended to be used to help streamline a trial by getting certain facts agreed to ahead of time, so evidence and witnesses don’t need to be presented in court.

It’s also possible to use the requests, especially when they’re made public, to embarrass or harass a defendant, perhaps to get them to hasten or increase a settlement offer.