UCLA basketball players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill were all detained in China for shoplifting. This quickly got national attention, as members of the Ball family were already celebrities.
But in a fortunate turn of events, President Donald Trump was able to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his tour of Asia and ensure that the three students avoided a 10-year prison sentence. He then issued the following statement on Twitter:
Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2017
The players then apologized, but LaVar Ball, LiAngelo Ball's father, had a different idea. In an interview with ESPN, he was asked about Trump's role in the players' release, and he responded, “Who?”
What was he over there for? Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out. ...
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.” I'm from L.A. I've seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses.
Trump then fought back:
...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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2017
All three players were suspended from UCLA basketball when they returned to the United States after the incident.
Now, according to TMZ, LaVar Ball has made a bold decision regarding his son's future and pulled him out of UCLA. “We are exploring other options with Gelo,” Ball said. “He's out of there.”
He went on and said, per ESPN:
I'm not sitting back and waiting. He wasn't punished this bad in China. We get back over here and the consequences were even stiffer than China. So basically they're in jail here. I'm going to make him way better for the draft than UCLA ever could have. He's not transferring to another school. The plan is now to get Gelo ready for the NBA draft.
As part of the three players' punishments, they were banned from traveling or suiting up with the team.
They had him there just to use the Ball family name. They were going to keep the best shooter on the team coming off the bench? That's like telling the Clippers back in the day not to play JJ Redick.
The third Ball brother, LaMelo, still plans to attend UCLA once he graduates high school.