LaVar Ball Removes Son LiAngelo from UCLA After Shoplifting Arrest

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2017

FILE - In this July 7, 2017, file photo, LaVar Ball, father of Los Angeles Lakers' Lonzo Ball and UCLA player LiAngelo Ball, watches the Lakers play the Los Angeles Clippers during an NBA summer league basketball game, in Las Vegas. President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday, Nov. 19, that he should have left three UCLA basketball players, including LiAngelo Ball, accused of shoplifting in China in jail after LaVar Ball minimized Trump’s involvement in winning the players’ release during an interview Saturday, Nov. 18, with ESPN. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
John Locher/Associated Press

LiAngelo Ball's career at UCLA is over before he even played a single game. The freshman guard plans to withdraw from the university and will no longer play for the basketball team, reportedly because of LaVar Ball's displeasure with the suspension his son was given for shoplifting in China.

"We are exploring other options with Gelo," LaVar Ball told ESPN's Jeff Goodman.

“I’m going to make him way better for the draft [than] UCLA ever could have," Ball added, per Darren Rovell of ESPN. Ball also told Jeff Goodman of ESPN that LiAngelo will not transfer to another school.

"The plan is now to get Gelo ready for the NBA Draft," Ball told Goodman. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski painted a bleak picture for LiAngelo's future:

LaVar also spoke to Eric Sondheimer and Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times, ripping the coaching staff for its handling of LiAngelo after his arrest.

LaVar noted the team took away LiAngelo's locker and meal card.

“My boy is loyal to me," Ball said. "I tried to let UCLA deal with the process and he should have been playing the next week.”

Sondheimer said the "bottom line" is that LaVar was "not willing to wait two months for LiAngelo to play and he didn't like him coming off the bench at UCLA."

In the wake of the decision, a UCLA official told Arash Markazi of ESPN that the move "likely means the end of what was supposed to be a long, fruitful run with the Ball brothers."

Markazi noted there are "serious questions" about LaMelo's eligibility as he has his own Big Baller Brand shoe and is helping LaVar with promotion.

"We learned today of LiAngelo Ball's intention to withdraw from UCLA," head coach Steve Alford said in a statement Monday, via CNN. "We respect the decision he and his family have made, and we wish him all the best in the future."

Prior to leaving, LiAngelo was suspended indefinitely for the shoplifting charges that became an international incident and led to involvement from United States President Donald Trump.

LaVar Ball and Trump then became engaged in a bizarre war of words that overshadowed the initial crime entirely. Trump became publicly incensed with LaVar's unwillingness to publicly thank him, leading to an entertaining appearance from the Big Baller Brand CEO on CNN.

"It wasn't like he was in the U.S. and said, 'OK, there's three kids in China. I need to go over and get them.' That wasn't the thought process," LaVar Ball said on CNN.

"I say thank you when I see something," LaVar Ball later added.

"If you help, you shouldn't have to say anything. Let him do his political affairs and let me handle my son and let's just stay in our lane."

The brother of Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball, LiAngelo was given a 3-star distinction by 247Sports coming out of high school.

LiAngelo's impending withdrawal from UCLA comes months after LaVar pulled his third son, LaMelo, out of high school because of disagreements with the Chino Hills (Calif.) coaching staff.

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