Days after claiming credit for the release of three UCLA basketball players who were questioned over shoplifting in China, Donald Trump tweeted that he “should have left them in jail”, owing to a lack of gratitude from one player’s father.
When LaVar Ball–LiAngelo Ball’s father, businessman and a basketball player himself–was asked on ESPN about Trump’s role in getting his son and the two other two freshmen back to America, Ball responded with, “Who?”
“What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out,” Ball said.
President Trump said he had raised the shoplifting case with his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping while on his Asian tour earlier this month. On Tuesday, the players returned home to the U.S. and on Wednesday, Trump wondered publicly whether he would be thanked or not. On Sunday, through a series of tweets, Trump said that LaVar Ball was “unaccepting of what I did for his son” as well as “very ungrateful.”
“A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there,” Ball had said on ESPN Friday. He defended his son, saying, “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.”
The three players were arrested and questioned by Chinese police on November 7 about stealing from high-end stores, which included a pair of sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store near the team’s hotel in Hangzhou. Although LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were detained and questioned, they never actually went to jail. When they touched back down in the US, they were suspended indefinitely. At a press conference held at the University last week, the players apologized and thanked Trump.