LaVar Ball is downplaying President Donald Trump’s role in his son and two other UCLA basketball players being released by the government in China after they were accused of shoplifting.
“Who?” Ball told ESPN when the question of how critically involved Trump was in the trio being allowed to return to the states earlier this week.
“What was he over there for,” Ball added.
“Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill are all now back in California and presumably on campus after being forced to remain in China for several days after the UCLA team had already returned home. All three have since been indefinitely suspended by the team. At the time of the incident, the UCLA team was in China to play a season-opening game against Georgia Tech.
Trump, who happened to be on a trip through Asia when news of the incident became public, has claimed he raised their case with President Xi Jinping of China during a visit to Beijing. He subsequently tweeted that he felt the trio owed him a grand thank you for his intervention.
“As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine,” Ball added.
“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. My son has built up enough character that one bad decision doesn’t define him. Now if you can go back and say when he was 12 years old he was shoplifting and stealing cars than that’s something different.”
In his tweet, Trump claimed that each of the UCLA teens “were headed for 10 years in jail” without him becoming intricately involved.
“Everybody gets stuck on the negativity of some things and they get stuck on them too long,” Ball said. “That’s not me. I handle what’s going on and then we go from there.”
[Featured Image by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images]