Posted: November 21, 2017
By Patrick McMahon, Rare.us
In a heated 20-minute interview, LaVar Ball told CNN host Chris Cuomo that he wouldn’t thank President Donald Trump for helping to bring back his son from China, ultimately coercing Cuomo into thanking him for appearing on CNN instead.
Minutes before thanking Chinese President Xi for his role in freeing his son, Ball said he “doesn’t go around saying thank you,” contesting Trump’s role in freeing his son, LiAngelo, and other UCLA basketball players arrested for shoplifting in China, where UCLA was playing an exhibition game against Georgia Tech.
Trump has called Ball “very ungrateful” for refusing to thank him for his role in freeing LiAngelo and the others, and even said he should have “left them 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. I should have left them in jail!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar. Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
In one of the less contentious exchanges, Ball downplayed the seriousness of his son’s shoplifting charge, even though it could have earned prison time for his son in China.
“It wasn’t a big deal because being raised in South Central LA, I’ve seen harsher things — I’ve seen 16 and 17-year-old kids have to go to jail for life that were my friends, doing bad things, making bad decisions, I mean doing stuff that’s harming people,” Ball said. “The way I looked at it was, OK, he shoplifted, he wasn’t physical, we returned it, he fessed up to it. ... It was an impulse thing, a bad decision at a bad time. That’s all it was, for an 18-year-old who’s never done anything wrong, never been late to class, a 4.0 student.”
He added that the crime was “victimless” and “not going without punishment.”
As the interview went on, and the more Cuomo pressed Ball to thank Trump on air, the more Ball resisted, leading to some combative exchanges between the two.
“Were you there?” Ball asked about China.
“I was not there,” Cuomo said.
“I can’t hear you. OK then. Unless you were there, then you can talk to me,” Ball shot back. “I was there! I was there in China. I know you weren’t there, though.”
Ball ultimately said, "There’s a lot of other matters to go around for the president to deal with,” asking Trump to “let me deal with my son.”
“Let’s stay in our lane,” Ball concluded.
President Donald Trump continued his Twitter roasting of UCLA basketball dad and Big Baller Brand mogul LaVar Ball on Sunday evening, calling him “very ungrateful” for not thanking him for getting his son out of trouble.
“Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar. Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!” Trump tweeted.
Earlier Sunday, Trump said “I should have left them in jail!,” referring to the three UCLA basketball players arrested in China for shoplifting, one of whom was Ball’s son, LiAngelo.
“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!” Trump tweeted.
This was Trump’s response to Ball essentially saying “Trump who?” when asked on Saturday about the president’s role in helping LiAngelo.
This all started when Trump tweeted after returning from Asia that the three UCLA basketball players who got in trouble for allegedly shoplifting in China should thank him for saving them from a decade in prison.
“Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” he tweeted last Wednesday morning.
The players, for their part, did exactly that at an afternoon press conference the same day.
“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!” Trump said in reply.
LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were returned to the United States after being arrested on charges of shoplifting, in connection with the alleged theft of Louis Vuitton sunglasses in Shanghai. The university later announced that the players would be suspended indefinitely.
Previously, Rare speculated that it was possible Trump wanted to hear a “thank you” not just from the basketball players, but also from the unapologetic LaVar Ball himself.
The president did not end up getting that thank you from the elder Ball.
“Who? What was [Trump] over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out,” Ball said, according to ESPN.
“As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine. I’m happy with how things were handled. A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there. Like I told him, ‘They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes,’” Ball added, downplaying his son’s alleged mistake. “I’m from L.A. 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 downplayed President Donald Trump’s role in having his son and two other UCLA basketball players released from custody after a shoplifting incident in China, ESPN reported. In a tweet Sunday afternoon, Trump responded that he “should have left them in jail.”
“Who? What was (Trump) over there for? Don’t tell me nothing,” Ball told ESPN on Friday. “Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley had been detained in China for the past week on suspicion of shoplifting. The three players returned to Los Angeles on Tuesday and were indefinitely suspended by the team.
Trump, who returned from Asia late Tuesday, said he raised the question of releasing the players when he spoke with China’s president, Xi Jinping, during a trip to Beijing last week, ESPN reported.
LaVar Ball, Trump tweeted, “is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!”
The players were questioned about allegedly stealing from three stores in Hangzhou, including sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team’s hotel. They were released on bail on Nov. 8, ESPN reported.
"As long as my boy's back here, I'm fine," Ball told ESPN. "I'm happy with how things were handled. A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there. Like I told him, 'They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes.' I'm from L.A. I've seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses.
“Everybody gets stuck on the negativity of some things and they get stuck on them too long. That's not me. I handle what's going on and then we go from there.”
Shoplifting is a relatively minor infraction in the United States, but not so in China. It could lead to a long prison sentence, according to multiple outlets — and that could be bad news for the three UCLA men’s basketball players reportedly accused of committing the crime Tuesday in Shanghai.
Bruins freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley could be sentenced to three to 10 years if convicted of “robbing public or private property using force, coercion or other methods,” according to Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel, citing the website for the Chinese mission to the United Nations.
The trio were detained Tuesday after allegedly shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store next to the hotel where UCLA is staying ahead of its season opener Friday against Georgia Tech. The most notable of the players is Ball, the younger brother of former UCLA star (and current Los Angeles Lakers rookie) Lonzo Ball and son of LaVar Ball.
LaVar Ball, who had planned a press conference but canceled it on the advice of his legal counsel, released the following statement:
"It is a very unfortunate situation that the Ball Family, and UCLA has to deal with at this particular time. We will comment shortly," he said, per ESPN's Arash Markazi.
William Nee, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Amnesty International, told Wetzel that those detained for crimes in China could “be detained for more than a month without American-style bail before local prosecutors even decide whether to press charges.” Nee added that the United States consulate could intervene to try and negotiate a quicker resolution to the case.
Nee added that the charges could also be greatly reduced and thus warrant a much more lenient sentence.
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