Trump shoots back at LaVar Ball over UCLA players detained in China: 'I should have left them in jail'

PHOTO: UCLA basketball players Cody Riley, left, and LiAngelo Ball walk into a room at Pauley Pavilion to give statements about their arrests in China during a press conference, Nov. 15, 2017, in Los Angeles. PlayWally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/Polaris
WATCH White House deals with Russia investigations, UCLA players

President Donald Trump shot back at LaVar Ball, who downplayed the president's role in getting his son and two other UCLA basketball players released after they were detained in China for questioning following shoplifting allegations.

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"I should have left them in jail," Trump tweeted Sunday.

The president was apparently responding to LaVar Ball's comments to ESPN playing down his son's shoplifting incident in China and Trump's involvement in getting his son and two other UCLA players back to the United States last week.

"Who?" Ball told ESPN, when asked about Trump's involvement in the matter. "What was he over there for? Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out."

UCLA freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, who had been detained in China, landed in Los Angeles on Tuesday evening and addressed the media on Wednesday before being indefinitely suspended by the team.

PHOTO: UCLA basketball players (L-R) Cody Riley, LiAngelo Ball and Jalen Hill give statements at Pauley Pavilion about their arrests in China during a press conference, Nov. 15, 2017 in Los Angeles. Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Polaris
UCLA basketball players (L-R) Cody Riley, LiAngelo Ball and Jalen Hill give statements at Pauley Pavilion about their arrests in China during a press conference, Nov. 15, 2017 in Los Angeles.

LiAngelo Ball said at that time that he "didn't exercise my best judgment," adding, "I've learned my lesson."

The freshman player also thanked Trump and the U.S. government for helping and said he takes "full responsibility" for his actions.

Trump, who returned late Tuesday from a trip through Asia, said he had raised the issue of the three players with President Xi Jinping of China during a visit to Beijing last week.

The players had been questioned last week about allegedly stealing from three high-end stores, including sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team's hotel in Hangzhou, where the Bruins had been staying before leaving for Shanghai to face Georgia Tech on Friday.

They were released on bail early Nov. 8 and had been staying at a lakeside hotel in Hangzhou prior to flying 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."

PHOTO: LaVar Ball, father of basketball player LiAngelo Ball and the owner of the Big Baller brand, reacts during a promotional event in Hong Kong, Nov. 14, 2017.
Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images
LaVar Ball, father of basketball player LiAngelo Ball and the owner of the Big Baller brand, reacts during a promotional event in Hong Kong, Nov. 14, 2017.

"Everybody gets stuck on the negativity of some things and they get stuck on them too long," LaVar Ball said. "That's not me. I handle what's going on and then we go from there."

On Saturday, Trump's social media director, Dan Scavino, weighed in, tweeting that Lavar Ball "knows if it weren't for President@realDonaldTrump his son would be in China for a long, long time."

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