Trump Attacks Father Of UCLA Player Detained In China: ‘Ungrateful Fool!’

Ron Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

It’s nearly Thanksgiving and President Donald Trump is tweeting about gratitude.

Or, a lack thereof.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday morning, Trump called the father of a UCLA basketball player who shoplifted and was arrested while in China earlier this month an “ungrateful fool!” and said “IT WAS ME” who helped get his son home safely.

The President called LaVar Ball, the father of UCLA Bruins player LiAngelo Ball, “just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair.” Trump said LaVar Ball “could have spent the next five to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you.”

Trump has been vocal about his expectations of gratitude from the basketball players ever since they were released from detainment. When the players were en route back to the U.S. Trump asked on Twitter whether they would thank him for helping negotiate their release. All three players thanked the President at a press conference when they returned.

Trump responded with a poetic tweet, in which he told the players “you’re welcome,” guided them to thank Chinese President Xi Jinping and told all three to “HAVE A GREAT LIFE!”

LaVar Ball, the chief executive of the sports apparel company Big Baller Brand, has refused to thank Trump for intervening to help get his son home. In an interview with ESPN on Friday he said that “everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out,” referring to Trump. He told CNN on Monday that he would give praise if it were due.

“How’d he help? If he helped, I would say thank you,” he said.

That didn’t sit well with the President, who has said he spoke with Xi during one of their meetings in Beijing about the UCLA players’ detainment. He tweeted over the weekend that he “should have left them in jail!” and claimed shop lifting is “a very big deal in China, as it should be (five to 10 years in jail).”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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