On Sunday, Donald Trump tweeted that he should have left the three UCLA players who were recently caught shoplifting during their trip to China – one being the brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball – in jail. Trump called out LaVar Ball specifically, saying he is both "unaccepting" and "ungrateful" for the role he played in getting his son LiAngelo Ball back to the United States.
"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!"
"Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar," Trump continued. "Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!"
LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were arrested on suspicion of stealing designer sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store in Shanghai last week, days before UCLA was set to open their season against Georgia Tech. Trump, who happened to be visiting China on a 12-day Asian tour at the time of the players' arrest, told reporters he personally intervened on their behalf. When asked about Trump’s involvement, however, LaVar Ball downplayed his role in a conversation with ESPN's Arash Markazi.
"Who?" LaVar Ball asked. "What was he over there for? Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out."
LiAngelo Ball and his teammates thanked Trump for his help in a press conference upon their return to the United States. Trump responded on Twitter, saying "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!"
UCLA's athletic direction has since confirmed that the players stole from three stores while they were in China. They are now suspended indefinitely.