President Donald Trump attacked LaVar Ball, the father of UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball, a UCLA basketball player Sunday afternoon, saying that he should have “left them in jail.”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
LaVar Ball told ESPN Saturday that he was skeptical Trump had much to do with the release of his son and his two teammates.
“Who?” Ball responded when asked about the president’s involvement. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
And though Trump wrote Ball doesn’t believing shoplifting is a “big deal,” Ball said Saturday he was just primarily happy to have his son back home.
“As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine,” he 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.”
Trump has made a number of tweets in the past calling out various athletes and sports commentators, people of color in particular.
He blamed ESPN host Jemele Hill for the network’s ratings after she called Donald Trump a white supremacist on Twitter. He “withdrew” the White House invitation for the Golden State Warriors after calling out player Stephen Curry for hesitating on accepting the invitation. Trump has also attacked NFL owners for allowing their players to follow the silent protest of kneeling during the national anthem, started by NFL player Colin Kaepernick over a year ago.
None of those tweets, however, have reached the level of what the president wrote this morning, suggesting that an American teenager should have remained in a Chinese jail because he was not satisfied with how the athlete’s father responded.
Dan Scavino, the president’s social media manager, weighed in on Saturday following Ball’s comments saying, “[LiAnegelo] would be in China for a long, long time” without the President’s interference.
— Dan Scavino Jr. (@DanScavino) November 18, 2017
LiAngelo Ball, along with two of his teammates were arrested in China for shoplifting from three stores during a team trip.
Trump, who was traveling across Asia last week, said he personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for assistance and later seemingly begged for gratitude after the players were ultimately released.
Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2017
The UCLA players, however, did in fact thank Trump. At a news conference last week Cody Riley, one of the UCLA basketball athletes arrested with LiAneglo, said, “To President Trump and the United States government, thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf. Thank you for helping us out,” Riley said. LiAngelo Ball echoed his teammate’s statement.
President Trump even acknowledge their thank-you.
To the three UCLA basketball players I say: You're welcome, go out and give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China who made…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2017