LiAngelo Ball's first public comments upon his arrival in the United States from China this week after being caught shoplifting were those of gratitude for those involved in getting him released, not the least of whom included President Donald Trump. But LaVar Ball isn't quite ready to go that far.
In an interview with ESPN's Arash Markazi, Ball downplayed Trump's role in intervening in the matter after three UCLA freshmen, including his middle son, were detained for shoplifting in China.
"Who?" said Ball of Trump. "What was he over there for? Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out."
During a two-day trip to Beijing last week, President Donald Trump asked his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, to help resolve the case of the three UCLA basketball players who were arrested for shoplifting in Hangzhou. According to the Washington Post, which cited anonymous sources, Trump's involvement helped move the process along and the shoplifting charges against LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were subsequently reduced.
In the wake of the expeditious treatment, President Trump sought -- and later received -- public gratitude from the three players. Now, the least surprising thing seems to be an inevitable Donald Trump tweet seeking the same from LaVar.
"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. 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 and going wild, then that's a different thing."