Thousands of dollars raised for festival that never happened; KSAT investigates Balling for Uvalde World Weekend

The event was supposed to happen February 4th & 5th of 2023, but it never came to fruition.

UVALDE, Texas – It’s a story we’ve been following for months — after the Robb Elementary shooting in Uvalde, a man named Nathan Kouamou came to the heartbroken town promising a festival and vowing to make a recreation center dedicated to the 21 victims.

“The first time I met Nathan Baller was kind of a fluke,” Uvalde’s mayor Don McLaughlin said.

He met Nathan “Baller” Kouamou soon after the tragedy at Robb Elementary.

McLaughlin said Kouamou told him he was planning a celebrity soccer match in Los Angeles in an effort to help.

“He asked me what I wanted out of this. And I said, ‘look, what I would like to see Uvalde get is a rec center. So we would have something for our kids,’” McLaughlin said.

A recreation center dedicated to the 21 victims of the school shooting.

Rather than a celebrity soccer match across the country, Kouamou said he’d move the match to Uvalde with a music festival happening at the same time.

Kouamou’s goal was to raise the millions needed to build a rec center.

“Nathan would make a lot of, well, I’ve got this artist is going to do this and this artist is going to do that, and we’re going to have this big, you know, festival in Uvalde,” McLaughlin said.

Kouamou told KSAT 12 News the same thing back in October when he officially announced the Balling for Uvalde World Weekend.

“We’re talking to Bad Bunny. We’re talking to him. We’re talking to Drake. We’re talking to Justin Bieber’s family,” Kouamou said on October 13th.

Kouamou promoted the event online and to Houston’s Christian Life Center Academy Administrator and Pastor Richard Rodriguez.

“He’s talked to me about that and some of the activities that he wants to do there and some of the support. It’s a huge project, really a huge project,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez has known Kouamou for years because Kouamou went to high school there.

“Nathan was a great young man, well-behaved in school, made good grades,” Rodriguez said.

Though hundreds of miles separate them, Rodriguez and McLaughlin agree, Kouamou’s Balling for Uvalde event is ambitious, or it was.

“I can be out here with you and just go and back and forth, but the world is coming to Uvalde on February 4th and 5th,” Kouamou said on November 9th.

“It would have been, it would have been an awesome event if it could have come to fruition,” McLaughlin said.

KSAT 12 News reporter Leigh Waldman went to the Uvalde County Fairplex, the site where the festival would have been held on the weekend it was scheduled for, but there was no event in sight.

“If this event doesn’t happen, I sure hope nobody was scammed out of funds. That would be terrible,” pastor Rodriguez said.

Back in November, Kouamou told us 4,500 tickets had been sponsored for children to go to the festival.

At a minimum, each ticket costs $15. In total, that adds up to $67,500.

“Right now, when you sponsor a ticket Baller Academy holding that, it’s’s not really a donation per se, it’s just you buying for somebody else to go,” Kouamou said on November 15th.

“Do you think Nathan had ill intentions with what he was hoping to accomplish?” Waldman asked.

“For me, I want to give everybody the benefit of the doubt and meeting the, I didn’t think that. But when I look at what transpired and what I’ve started to hear and find, then, you know, everything points to maybe he did,” McLaughlin responded.

Waldman called, texted, emailed, and messaged Kouamou over social media to talk about what happened but he has not responded to questions.

The website for the Balling for Uvalde World Weekend has now been taken down, but weeks prior to that, the website was locked and password protected.

Both the City of Uvalde and County Fairplex have issued statements distancing themselves from Kouamou’s event.

“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 Kouamou. Consequently, the City will no longer entertain Mr. Kouamou’s efforts. In the event Mr. Kouamou presents a proposal through the Uvalde Forever Fund that is properly vetted, the City will support any such venture.”

City of Uvalde

More on KSAT:

About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is an investigative 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.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.

Recommended Videos