LaVar Ball wanted President Trump to fly son out of China on Air Force One

By Alex Butler  |  Nov. 21, 2017 at 2:34 PM
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Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Basketball dad LaVar Ball says he would've thanked President Donald Trump for getting his son out of China if he had used Air Force One.

Ball was on CNN Monday night when he made the claim. After several back-and-forths, Ball refused to thank President Trump for his help in getting LiAngelo Ball and his UCLA Bruins basketball teammates out of China.

Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were questioned about allegedly stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store earlier this month in Hangzhou. They were later arrested and released on bail. Trump said he coordinated with Chinese President Xi Jinping to have the student athletes released.

On Nov. 15 he tweeted that he wondered if the three Bruins would thank him. Trump also said that the players "were headed for 10 years in jail."

U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania aboard Air Force One arrive at Yokota Air Base on November 5 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI

The players held a news conference after they arrived back in the United States, thanking President Trump, among other parties, for their release. They admitted guilt and the charges have since been withdrawn by Chinese authorities. They were indefinitely suspended by the school.

Trump went on to criticize LaVar Ball and said that he "should have left" the players in jail.

"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 Sunday. "I should have left them in jail!"

Ball responded last week during an interview with ESPN, questioning why Trump was over in China.

"Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be [5-10 years in jail], but not to father LaVar," Trump tweeted Sunday. "Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!"

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders discussed the topic Monday, saying President Trump's comment about leaving them in jail was "rhetorical."

Ball was on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon Monday. He discussed his son LiAngelo and President Trump with stand-in host Chris Cuomo.

He began the interview saying he would never have imagined discussing geopolitics and the President of the United States on CNN.

"Never in my wildest dreams," Ball said.

Ball was asked if him not thanking the president was disrespectful.

"When somebody asks me a question, that's not disrespectful if I feel nobody did anything," Ball said. "I don't have to go around saying thank you to everybody."

Ball said there are a lot of "other matters to go around for the president to deal with that are political ... as far as me, let me deal with my son and let him do what he's going to do."

Ball also said that he doesn't have doubts about what Trump did, but he has "doubts about what he didn't do."

"I would have said thank you if he would have put him on his plane and took him home. Then I would have said, 'Thank you Mr. Trump for taking my boys out of China and getting them back to the U.S.' There is a lot of room on that plane. I would have said, thank you, kindly for that."

Despite going on air and talking to various national media outlets over the past year, Ball kept saying he wanted people to "leave him alone."

The Big Baller Brand CEO has 222,000 Twitter followers, more than LiAngelo Ball, but about half as many as Los Angeles Lakers rookie and oldest son Lonzo Ball.

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