But Ball's father LaVar Ball, a brash media personality known for outspoken advocacy of his three basketball playing sons, minimised the president's role in an interview Friday with sports network ESPN.
LiAngelo Ball, along with two other players, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, were arrested last week on suspicion of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store while their team was in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly told the Times the president was instrumental in their release, bringing it up with China's Xi Jinping. All three players offered thanks to Trump during Wednesday's news conference, after Trump tweeted that the players should thank him for stepping in and helping gain their release. That's gonna be debated, that's gonna be argued about, but I want to put that on the table: "it sure looks like race-baiting to a lot of people".
On Wednesday, the players indeed thanked Trump. "Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!" he wrote on Twitter.
As long as my boy's back here, I'm fine.
That's what watching LaVar vs. Trump unfold feels like. The players missed the team's game with Georgia Tech in Shanghai and were forced to remain behind in China to deal with the fallout of the charges even after the rest of the team returned to Los Angeles. Like I told him, 'They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes'. "I've seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses", he said.
All three players have been suspended from the UCLA basketball team indefinitely, and articles of impeachment have been filed on Donald Trump. "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", he said.