- Published: Thursday, 23 November 2017 14:14
- Hits: 15
President Donald Trump began the day before Thanksgiving on Twitter, calling out those who he claims have not, in fact, given him their proper thanks. His target, again: LaVar Ball, who Trump had previously called "very ungrateful" for the president's help in resolving a shoplifting charge in China for his son, LiAngelo, and two other University of California at Los Angeles basketball players.
It had been nearly two full days since Trump last mentioned the elder Ball by name - and in the intervening hours, Ball had been on CNN, saying that he had nothing to be thankful for when it came to his son and his president.
"How'd he help? If he helped, I would say thank you," Ball had told CNN.
Trump wasn't having it, calling Ball an "ungrateful fool" and "a poor man's version of Don King."
As for who had helped free LiAngelo Ball from China, the president said: "IT WAS ME." His full tweets were "It wasn't the White House, it wasn't the State Department, it wasn't father LaVar's so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence - IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man's version of Don King, but without the hair. Just think..
". . .LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It's a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!" LiAngelo Ball and two other UCLA men's basketball players were arrested for shoplifting while in Hangzhou for a tournament. They returned to the United States last week and were summarily suspended by their team.
"You're welcome," Trump tweeted at the trio upon their return to the United States, urging Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill to "HAVE A GREAT LIFE!" Trump said last week that he had personally intervened in the case with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, asking the Chinese leader to help resolve the case. "The basketball players, by the way - I know a lot of people are asking - I will tell you, when I heard about it two days ago, I had a great conversation with President Xi," Trump said after boarding Air Force One in Manila at the conclusion of a 12-day trip through Asia. "What they did was unfortunate. You know, you're talking about very long prison sentences. [The Chinese] do not play games." Xi "was terrific, and they're working on it right now," Trump added. "And hopefully everything is going to work out. And I know they're very grateful because they were told exactly what happened."
When asked specifically whether Xi was helping to resolve the matter, Trump said last week: "Yes, he is. And he's been terrific. President Xi has been terrific on that subject.
"But that was not a good subject. That was not something that should have happened."
The State Department typically takes the lead on cases involving U.S. citizens who are arrested abroad, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing was aware of the case, officials said. UCLA is one of the top basketball programs in the country, and the Ball family - including LiAngelo's outspoken father, LaVar Ball - has become well-known in the sports world.
Trump raised the arrests during a two-day state visit to Beijing, arriving after the three freshman players were accused of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team's hotel. Ball, Riley and Hill did not play in the team's victory over Georgia Tech in Shanghai.
The sunglasses in the Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou are priced at or around 4,900 yuan ($750). According to Chinese law, anyone stealing goods worth between 4,000 and 7,000 yuan faces between one and two years in jail, although the sentence can be mitigated if they confess, show remorse and pay compensation.