President Trump began the day before Thanksgiving on Twitter, calling out those who he claims have not, in fact, given him their proper thanks. His target, again: LaVar Ball, who Trump had previously called “very ungrateful” for the president’s help in resolving a shoplifting charge in China for his son, LiAngelo, and two other University of California at Los Angeles basketball players.
It had been nearly two full days since Trump last mentioned the elder Ball by name — and in the intervening hours, Ball had been on CNN, saying that he had nothing to be thankful for when it came to his son and his president.
“How’d he help? If he helped, I would say thank you,” Ball told CNN.
Trump wasn’t having it, calling Ball an “ungrateful fool” and “a poor man’s version of Don King,” the boxing promoter known for his spotlight-grabbing style.
As for who had helped free LiAngelo Ball from China, the president said Wednesday: “IT WAS ME.”
LiAngelo Ball and two other UCLA men’s basketball players were arrested for shoplifting while in Hangzhou for a tournament. They returned to the United States last week and were summarily suspended by their team.
“You’re welcome,” Trump tweeted at the trio upon their return to the United States, urging Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill to “HAVE A GREAT LIFE!” He also suggested that they “give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China.”
Trump said last week that he had personally intervened in the case with his Chinese counterpart, asking Xi to help resolve the case.
When the president returned from a 12-day trip through Asia, he wrote on Twitter: “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you to President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!”
Enter LaVar Ball, who was asked by ESPN about Trump’s role in securing his son’s release.
“Who?” Ball said. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”