October 22, 2018
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Trump fires back at LaVar Ball for saying he did nothing to help UCLA players in China

John Locher | AP
John Locher | AP
In this July 7, 2017, file photo, LaVar Ball, father of Los Angeles Lakers' Lonzo Ball and UCLA player LiAngelo Ball, watches the Lakers play the Los Angeles Clippers during an NBA summer league basketball game, in Las Vegas. President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday, Nov. 19, that he should have left three UCLA basketball players, including LiAngelo Ball, accused of shoplifting in China in jail.

President Donald Trump chastised LaVar Ball, the father of one of three UCLA players who were released by Chinese authorities after efforts by Trump and his Chinese counterpart, tweeting that “I should have left them in jail!”

Trump was responding early Sunday afternoon to Ball’s comment that Trump had done little to help with the release of LiAngelo Ball and his teammates after their arrest for shoplifting while on a team trip to China. “Who?” Ball told ESPN’s Arash Markazi when asked about Trump’s involvement in the matter. “What was he over there (on the Asian trip) for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

Trump retorted: “Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!”

Last week, had made sure everyone knew that he personally intervened in the matter after the players’ arrest. He asked that they thank him for pleading their case to Chinese President Xi Jinping while on his Asia trip:

“Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!”

By midweek, Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley made sure to give the president kudos for his efforts in their remarks after returning to the U.S. and he seemed appreciative, telling them to “HAVE A GREAT LIFE!” on Twitter and warning them to be careful because “there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!”

The elder Ball also tried to minimize the crime committed by his son and his teammates, who were detained by Chinese authorities after they were caught shoplifting from some high-end stores near the team hotel ahead of UCLA’s season opener in China.

“As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine,” Ball said. “I’m happy with how things were handled. A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there. Like I told him, ‘They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes.’ I’m from L.A. I’ve seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses. My son has built up enough character that one bad decision doesn’t define him. Now if you can go back and say when he was 12 years old he was shoplifting and stealing cars and going wild, then that’s a different thing.

“Everybody gets stuck on the negativity of some things, and they get stuck on them too long. That’s not me. I handle what’s going on and then we go from there.”

The UCLA basketball team has suspended the younger Ball and his teammates indefinitely.

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