President Trump says he should have left three University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) basketball players jailed in China after one of the athlete’s fathers downplayed his help.
“Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal,” Trump on Sunday tweeted.
“I should have left them in jail!” he added of UCLA freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.
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. I should have left them in jail!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
LaVar Ball last Friday downplayed Trump’s role in securing the release of his son and two of his UCLA teammates from China earlier that week.
“Who?” he told ESPN when asked about Trump’s assistance on the matter. “What was he over there for?”
“Don’t tell me nothing,” LaVar Ball added. “Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
LaVar Ball also minimized the seriousness of allegations that his son and two teammates shoplifted in China earlier this month.
“I’m from [Los Angeles],” he said. “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,” LaVar Ball continued.
“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.”
LiAngelo Ball, Riley and Hill thanked Trump during a news conference last week the day after they returned to the U.S. following their detention in China.
The trio was arrested and questioned on Nov. 7 about stealing from high-end stores next to their team’s hotel in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.
Trump, who concluded a trip through Asia last week, raised the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping while visiting Beijing before his travels ended.
UCLA had been staying in Hangzhou before a game in Shanghai, and the situation involving some of its players made global headlines due to the school’s high-profile basketball program.