Donald Trump Rips LaVar Ball, Says He Should've Left LiAngelo, Teammates in Jail

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2017

US President Donald Trump is seen during an event honoring the NCAA national championship teams on November 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images

The president of the United States of America is feuding with a basketball parent.

Donald Trump took to Twitter on Sunday to blast LaVar Ball, saying he should not have helped the three UCLA basketball players who were arrested on shoplifting charges in China.

"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," Trump tweeted. "I should have left them in jail!"

LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill returned to the United States on Tuesday after they were held on shoplifting charges in China. The players allegedly stole sunglasses from a store in Hangzhou ahead of UCLA's season-opening game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai.

LaVar Ball downplayed the role Trump had in bringing the players back to the United States in an interview with ESPN.com's Arash Markazi.

"Who?" Ball said of Trump. "What was he over there for? Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out."

White House chief of staff John Kelly told the New York Times' Mark Landler and Michael D. Shear that Trump's discussion with Chinese President Xi Jinping helped expedite the players' return to the U.S. and reduce the charges. Trump said they faced up to 10 years in jail. All three players thanked Trump by name hours after the president sent a tweet essentially asking for an expression of gratitude.

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"I didn't exercise my best judgment, and I'm sorry for that," LiAngelo Ball said at a news conference.

"This does not define who I am. My family raised me better than that."

Trump took a far more gregarious tone with the players after their acknowledgements.

Trump tweeted: "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!"

All three players have been indefinitely suspended by UCLA.

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