Federal appeals court upholds ruling that Zion Williamson's 2019 contract with an agent was void

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson shouts from the bench during the second half in Game 2 of the team's NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Nate Billings)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld a 2021 ruling that NBA star Zion Williamson's contract with a marketing agent was void because the agent was not licensed in North Carolina when the two entered an agreement in 2019.

Florida-based agent Gina Ford had sought $100 million from Williamson, claiming the former Duke All-American improperly broke an agreement she had to represent him in endorsement deals.

A federal judge in North Carolina found that Ford was not a licensed agent in that state at the time she entered an agreement with Williamson and that their contract did not comply with key requirements outlined by the state’s sports agent law. The fact she wasn't licensed shielded Williamson from any penalties associated with breaking the contract.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with that ruling in an opinion written by Judge Albert Diaz and released Monday.

Williamson played his freshman season at Duke, and the New Orleans Pelicans made him the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft. Williamson filed a federal lawsuit in North Carolina the month of the draft to terminate a five-year contract with Ford’s agency after moving to Creative Artists Agency LLC.