LaVar Ball, father of LiAngelo Ball, a UCLA basketball player recently released by the Chinese after being detained on shoplifting charges, has taken issue with President Trump’s role in his son’s release.
In an extraordinary interview Monday with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “CNN Tonight,” Lavar Ball, explained that President Donald Trump would have gotten a “thank you” from him had he flown his son and the other two detained players home from China.
The players were being held in China for shoplifting while in the country for a basketball game.
Saturday, LaVar Ball refused to acknowledge Trump’s role in getting the three players home, to which Trump responded by saying he should have left the basketball players in jail.
Cuomo pressed Ball to thank Trump, but Ball said he would only thank the president had he let the trio come home with him on his plane.
“I would have said thank you if he put him on his plane and took him home,” the elder Ball told Cuomo. “Then I would have said thank you, Mr. Trump, for taking my boys out of China and bringing them back to the U.S. There’s a lot of room on that plane. I would have said thank you kindly for that.”
Ball spoke with ESPN about Trump’s involvement in his son’s release, and was critical of the notion that the Chinese released his son due to Trump’s intervention:
“Who?” Ball said when Markazi raised the topic. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out,” he added.
On Sunday, President Trump took to Twitter to criticize the elder Ball:
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017