Trump Blasts ‘Ungrateful’ LaVar Ball After Saving Son from Chinese Prison

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 23: LaMelo, LiAngelo and LeVar Ball attend a press conference for Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers on June 23, 2017 the the team training faculity in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

President Donald Trump attacked the former basketball player turned media personality LaVar Ball on Sunday evening, claiming that he had been “very ungrateful” after Trump’s intervention saved his son from a prison sentence in China.

Ball’s son, UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball, was arrested in Hangzhou, China, this month alongside his teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill after allegedly stealing merchandise from a Louis Vuitton store. The three men were placed under house arrest in China and, if found guilty, would have faced up to ten years in prison.

However, while on a state visit to China, Trump appealed to Chinese leader Xi Jinping to free all three detainees, and the players were soon released and returned to the United States.

“Who?” Ball said in an interview with ESPN on Sunday when asked about Trump’s intervention. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

He continued:

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. 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,” he added. “That’s not me. I handle what’s going on, and then we go from there.”

In a tweet on Sunday evening, Trump said that LaVar had been “very ungrateful” and pointed out that his son could have faced up to ten years behind bars.

“Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar,” he wrote.” Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!”

Earlier in the evening, Trump suggested that he should have left the “players in jail” due to LaVar Ball’s lack of appreciation.

“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,” he said. “I should have left them in jail!

Trump previously questioned whether the players themselves would thank him for his intervention, which they eventually did.

“I would also like to thank President Trump and the United States government for the help that they provided,” LiAngelo said. “I’m grateful to be back home.”

All three players have since been suspended indefinitely from the UCLA basketball team.

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