Trump lashes out at Ball, says he is an 'ungrateful fool'

President Trump early Wednesday morning lashed out at the father of one of the three UCLA basketball players arrested in China for shoplifting earlier this month, referring to LaVar Ball as a "poor man's version of Don King" and an "ungrateful fool."

"It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence — IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair," the president tweeted.

ADVERTISEMENT

"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," Trump added. "But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!"

 

Trump and Ball have gone back and forth through the media since Ball's son, LiAngelo Ball, and two other UCLA players were released from China after being detained for shoplifting earlier this month.

In a news conference held shortly after their return last week, the UCLA players apologized for their actions in China and thanked the president and the U.S. government for helping to secure their release.

"I'm grateful for this UCLA team that stood strong beside us and made it possible for me to be sitting here in front of you all today," Ball said last week. "I respect the amount of hard work they put in to get us back to the United States."

"I would also like to thank President Trump and the United States government for the help that they provided, as well," he added. 

On Monday night, LaVar Ball fired at Trump for his role in the students' release.

“If you help, you shouldn’t have to say anything,” Ball said in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “Somebody told me about the tweet a couple days ago. … Why is that on your mind? All this stuff going on, and that’s on your mind, that a father didn’t say thank you? And you’re the head of the U.S.? Come on.”

Ball also told Trump to “stay in [his] lane.”

“Let him do his political affairs and let me handle my son, and let's just stay in our lane,” Ball said.

This followed criticism from Trump on Sunday, when the president said he should have waited until "his next trip" there to negotiate for the player's release.

"Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar," Trump tweeted. "Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!"

Max Greenwood contributed