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NBA (National Basketball Association)

‘Who?’ LaVar Ball plays down Donald Trump’s role in getting son LiAngelo home from China after shoplifting incident

Father of one of three UCLA basketball players detained in China speaks after US President claims to have interceded with counterpart Xi Jinping

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 November, 2017, 6:11pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 November, 2017, 6:11pm

LiAngelo Ball may have been thankful to US President Donald Trump for helping him get home from China, but his father LaVar Ball was less so.

While in Hong Kong on a promotional trip this week, LaVar Ball did not answer questions regarding Trump interceding with his China counterpart Xi Jinping to get LiAngelo Ball and his UCLA basketball teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill released after they were detained on suspicion of shoplifting.

Asked about Trump’s role in getting the players back to Los Angeles, Ball told ESPN: “Who? What was he over there for?

“Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

The trio landed at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday and apologised at a news conference on Wednesday.

However, the players have been indefinitely suspended UCLA after claims they stole items from three different department stores, including sunglasses from Louis Vuitton, near the team’s hotel in Hangzhou.

The college basketball side had been in China for a preseason promotional game, but had to fly home without the three players after the incident.

Trump had been on a diplomacy tour stop in Beijing at the time, and said he urged Xi to let the players go home.

“As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine,” LaVar 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.

“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.”