President Donald Trump received the public gratitude he sought from LiAngelo Ball and two other UCLA players for whatever role he had in getting them back to the U.S. following a shoplifting incident last week in China.
Ball’s opinionated father? Not so thankful or impressed with the Big-Baller-in-Chief.
“Who?” LaVar Ball asked ESPN on Friday night when asked about Trump. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley — all freshmen on the UCLA hoops squad — had been detained in China for several days on suspicion of stealing from three stores, including sunglasses from Louis Vuitton near the team hotel in Hangzhou while on a road trip with the Bruins earlier this month.
LaVar Ball, seen here on promotional event in Hong Kong earlier this month, has no interest in giving President Trump credit for getting his son out of China despite shoplifting charges.
(ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)
Before he returned on Tuesday from a trip through several Asian countries, Trump claimed he personally appealed about the case to President Xi Jinping of China during a visit to Beijing last week.
The three players were released on bail on Nov. 8 but remained at their hotel while UCLA moved on to Shanghai for a game against Georgia Tech last Friday. Indefinitely suspended by the team, LiAngelo Ball and the other players were back in Los Angeles by Tuesday and addressed the media the following day, admitting guilt and thanking Trump “for taking the time to intervene on our behalf.”
Athletes in trouble with the law
The previous day, Trump had tweeted: “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!”
“As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine,” LaVar Ball told ESPN. “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 (LiAngelo), ‘They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes.’
UCLA basketball players Cody Riley (from l.), LiAngelo Ball, and Jalen Hill all thanked Trump when they returned to the U.S.
“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.”