Members of UCLA’s basketball team were arrested in China after being caught shoplifting. President Trump was fortunately able to get them released after speaking with the Chinese president. However, the President took issue with the families of the young men who were arrested when he felt they did not give him the proper respect he was owed.
The father of LiAngelo Ball did not give much credit to President Trump for getting the boys released. In an ESPN interview he said,
““Who? What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
After the ESPN interview, the President tweeted out the following in response to the father’s statements,
“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!”
“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 your release possible and, HAVE A GREAT LIFE! Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!”
John Kelly, the president’s chief of staff, said of the Chinese authorities,
“These are law and order guys; they have pretty swift justice. An awful lot of American kids don’t realize that the kinds of things that in United States society we tolerate with a slap on the wrist, a lot of countries they take very seriously.”
However, the father received flack in the media for downplaying his son’s behavior. In the same interview with ESPN he said,
“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. 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.”
During the event in question the three players, Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, admitted they stole sunglasses as well as a few other things during a team trip to China. Their crime occurred at the same time that President Trump was in Asia for his international trip.
The Washington Post wrote,
“Trump was piqued because he has pointed to his record of freeing Americans held overseas as evidence of his dealmaking prowess and as a contrast with predecessor Barack Obama. Before the three basketball players, the Trump administration had successfully negotiated releases including American student Otto Warmbier from North Korea and charity worker Aya Hijazi from Egypt. Although those efforts earned bipartisan welcome, the apparent grievance that he has not gotten more credit or thanks in the UCLA case drew criticism.”
The Los Angeles times also reported,
“Rep. Steve Womack (R–Ark.) said Trump “personally engaged the Chinese president and it turned out the way it did,” with the players released. He said China is known for being “extremely punitive” with criminal suspects, adding: “This could have been a disaster for those families.”
Ball, Hill and Riley were detained in Hangzhou for questioning last week before the Bruins beat Georgia Tech in their season-opening game in Shanghai. The rest of the team returned home Saturday. Athletic director Dan Guerrero said the shoplifting occurred when the team had 90 minutes of free time on Nov. 6 in Hangzhou. He said the three took items from three stores. The players are suspended indefinitely, and coach Steve Alford has said they will have to earn their way back onto the team.”
President Trump has made it a mission during his presidency to work on releasing Americans that are detained and arrested while overseas. He was able to obtain the release of college student Otto Warmbier. He died shortly thereafter. Now he has obtained the release of these students. The president’s comments speak to a much larger issue at hand. President Trump has received very little support or acknowledgment for the work he has done especially on behalf of Americans that have been arrested while overseas. This is something that President Obama never did do, nor was willing to do. Instead, he stood by and waited for action to happen and it never did.
Share if you think the father of the ball player should have been more understanding and respectful to President Trump for his diligent work in getting them released from what would have been years in prison!