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Trump responds to LaVar: "I should have left them in jail"

LaVar Ball (L), father of basketball player LiAngelo Ball and the owner of the Big Baller brand, sits with his other son LaMelo Ball during a promotional event in Hong Kong on November 14, 2017. UCLA players LiAngelo Ball -- the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie star Lonzo Ball -- and teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were arrested on November 7 in Hangzhou ahead of their regular-season-opening game against Georgia Tech in nearby Shanghai this past weekend. ESPN reported that they were nabbed on suspicion of stealing from a Louis Vuitton store and later freed on bail but ordered to remain in Hangzhou. / AFP PHOTO / Anthony WALLACE (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- After LaVar Ball downplayed President Donald Trump's involvement in getting his son and two other UCLA teammates released from China for their recent shoplifting arrest, Trump shot back that "I should have left them in jail."

UCLA freshmen basketball players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were arrested on Nov. 7 for allegedly stealing 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 Sunday afternoon, Trump tweeted: "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!"

Trump, while visiting Beijing last week as part of a five-nation Asia tour, personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help resolve the case of the three UCLA players.

Days after Trump discussed his involvement, LaVar Ball, LiAngelo's father, suggested the president had little to do with the matter.

"Who?" LaVar Ball told ESPN on Friday when asked about Trump's involvement in getting the players released from China and back to the United States. "What was he over there for? Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out."

LiAngelo Ball, Riley and Hill landed in Los Angeles on Tuesday evening and addressed the media on Wednesday before being indefinitely suspended by the team.

UCLA coach Steve Alford said at the news conference that the trio will not take part in practice or games while the school performs a review of the situation.

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said the players admitted stealing from three stores. They were released from custody after posting bail on Nov. 8 on the condition that they surrender their passports. They stayed at a lakeside hotel in Hangzhou before flying home.

"As long as my boy's back here, I'm fine," LaVar Ball told ESPN on Friday. "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.

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

Updated November 19, 2017

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