LaVar Ball and President Donald Trump are no strangers when it comes to “going there,” so it comes as no surprise whatsoever that Ball responded to the president getting his son out of trouble in China by saying: Trump who?
Trump, you may recall, tweeted after returning from Asia that the three UCLA basketball players who got in trouble for shoplifting in China, one of whom being lightning rod LaVar Ball’s son LiAngelo, should thank him for saving them from a decade in prison.
“Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” he tweeted last Wednesday morning.
The players, for their part, did exactly that at an afternoon press conference the same day.
UCLA ballplayer Cody Riley thanks Pres Trump for intervening to get him and fellow players released from detention in China for shoplifting. "We really appreciate you helping us out," he says of Pres Trump. They apologize for their actions. pic.twitter.com/a1p7QfI5NE
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) November 15, 2017
“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 your release possible and, HAVE A GREAT LIFE! Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!” Trump said in reply.
LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were returned to the United States after being arrested on charges of shoplifting, in connection with the alleged theft of Louis Vuitton sunglasses in Shanghai. The university later announced that the players would be suspended indefinitely.
Statement from Larry Scott about the UCLA situation. Players on flight back home. pic.twitter.com/v2ECpdIeMz
— Tyson Alger (@tysonalger) November 14, 2017
UCLA basketball players swarmed by reporters as they return to Los Angeles after spending a week under house arrest in China amid shoplifting allegations. https://t.co/RXAscxPWnP pic.twitter.com/OyQRGiYaJm
— ABC News (@ABC) November 15, 2017
Previously, we speculated that it was possible Trump wanted to hear a “thank you” not just from the basketball players, but also from the unapologetic LaVar Ball himself.
The president did not end up getting that thank you from LaVar Ball.
“Who? What was [Trump] over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out,” Ball said, according to ESPN.
“As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine. 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,'” Ball added, downplaying his son’s mistake. “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.”