Balling for Uvalde event loses backing from Robb Elementary victims’ families

The event is scheduled for Feb. 4 and Feb. 5 in 2023

Less than a month after the Balling for Uvalde World Weekend event was announced, the families of the Robb Elementary victims are distancing themselves.

UVALDE, Texas – There was a larger-than-life announcement on Oct. 13 in Uvalde.

“There’s going to be two events in 2023 -- the Super Bowl and the Balling for Uvalde World Weekend, trust me,” Nathan Baller, founder of the Baller Academy said the day of the announcement.

It’s now running out of steam.

When KSAT 12 News initially reported on the Balling for Uvalde World Weekend event, it was promised to be a celebrity soccer tournament and music festival.

Baller promised the money would go toward a state-of-the-art recreation and wellness center dedicated to the 21 victims.

“We’re going to have the Layla Salazar track, the Eva Mireles Conference room, the Jacye Luevanos playground,” Baller said.

Now 20 of the 21 families have sent a cease-and-desist letter asking Baller to “not use the names and images of our loved ones to raise funds or for marketing purposes.”

It further states their families will not participate in his events moving forward.

They’re not alone. In a phone call with KSAT on Oct. 13, Baller said he’d be working with the Uvalde Volunteer Fire Department because of their 501c3 status.

On Monday, Patrick Williams, the president of the volunteer fire department, says that’s no longer happening.

Additionally, the City of Uvalde issued a similar statement:

“The City of Uvalde continues to support the victims and the families of the Rob School Tragedy. It is the City’s understanding that the victims and their families have cut ties with Nathan Baller. Consequently, the City will no longer entertain Mr. Baller’s efforts. In the event Mr.Baller presents a proposal through the Uvalde Forever Fund that is properly vetted, the City will support any such venture.”

As for the celebrity star power promised like Drake and Bad Bunny, they’re not listed on the Balling for Uvalde website.

A press conference to announce more of the details for the event slated to happen in February was canceled Sunday.

Baller promises an update soon and said it would be better to talk after the election on Tuesday.

Find more Uvalde coverage from KSAT here

About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.