But his father sent Trump a peace offering.
Former UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball caused an international incident that devolved into a national embarrassment in November when he and two teammates were arrested for shoplifting sunglasses in China. Ball, the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers’ rookie Lonzo Ball and the son of outspoken stage parent LaVar Ball, spent a night in jail and returned home six days later.
After Ball’s arrest, President Donald Trump barged his way into the story by asking his Twitter followers if the players would thank him after being released. Trump’s need for adulation was completely inappropriate for a public servant and further proof of his malignant narcissism.
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\n
Upon their return to Los Angeles, all three players, their coach, and UCLA’s athletic director thanked Trump for his alleged help in arranging the players’ release.
To the three UCLA basketball players I say: You're welcome, go out and give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China who made.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2017\n
....your release possible and, HAVE A GREAT LIFE! Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2017\n
But soon after, LaVar Ball refused to thank Trump, telling ESPN, “Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
Then, of course, Trump couldn’t let the perceived snub go, and he unleashed a series of tweets that were 10 feet below the dignity of the presidency.
Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017\n
Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar. Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017\n
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. Just think..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2017\n
...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\n
On Dec. 13, LiAngelo Ball revealed that he only thanked Trump because UCLA made him do it. “My school wanted to hear it,” LiAngelo told The Breakfast Club. “Before I went up there, it was like, ‘You’ve got to thank him.’ I just threw him in there real quick right before I gave my speech. If they didn’t tell me to do it, it wouldn’t have been in there, to be honest.”
Image via Frankie Vision/YouTube.
But there may be hope for reconciliation between Trump and the Ball family after all. LaVar told The Breakfast Club that he mailed the president a pair of his family’s Big Baller Brand sneakers. “Gave him three pairs, let him know how we roll,” LaVar said. “Red, white, and blue. Show him we’re patriotic.”
No word yet if Trump has thanked Ball for the new kicks.