- The three UCLA basketball players who were arrested in China and charged with shoplifting returned stateside after President Trump met with Xi Jingping to ask for help in the case.
- LaVar Ball, father of LiAngelo Ball, downplayed Trump’s involvement with his son’s release while speaking with ESPN.
- On Sunday morning, Trump sent out a tweet suggesting Ball was ungrateful for his help and that he “should have left [the players] in jail!”
President Trump fired back at LaVar Ball in a tweet on Sunday morning after Ball downplayed the president’s involvement in the release of his son LiAngelo.
“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!” the president tweeted.
LiAngelo Ball was arrested in China and charged with shoplifting along with two of his UCLA teammates just days before the Bruins were scheduled to play Georgia Tech. The trio of players did not return to the United States with their team, and were placed on house arrest at their hotel while the police continued their investigation.
David Nakamura of the Washington Post later reported that President Trump asked his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, for help regarding the case during his two-day state visit just a day after the arrests were made. After Trump brought up the players’ arrests, Xi said he would look into the case, and ensured that the three would be treated fairly.
Upon their return stateside, LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill held a press conference, at which Ball thanked the president and the United States government for their help in their safe return after Trump wondered on Twitter if he would receive praise for his work in getting the young men back home.
But on Friday, LiAngelo Ball’s father LaVar Ball downplayed Trump’s involvement in his son’s return, asking ESPN’s Arash Markazi “Who?” and adding, “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
UCLA is reportedly still weighing potential punishment for the three players.
Update: Trump sent out yet another tweet about LaVar Ball Sunday evening, saying “Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar. Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!”