LiAngelo Ball Says It Wasn't His Choice to Thank Trump

Now the basketball player is trading UCLA for Lithuania
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2017 4:41 PM CST
In this Nov. 14, 2017 file photo, UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball is surrounded by reporters and photographers as he leaves Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

(Newser) – Former UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball says he wouldn't have thanked President Trump following his shoplifting arrest in China had UCLA not asked him to do so, USA Today reports. "They wanted to hear that, and he tweeted about it before my speech so I had to add it in there right before I gave it," Ball says. "Before I went up there, it's like, 'You gotta thank him.' I just threw him in there real quick before I gave my speech." According to the New York Daily News, Ball addressed the issue Wednesday during an appearance on The Breakfast Club. Trump said he interceded on behalf of Ball and two other players, and they thanked him during a press conference after he tweeted: "Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!"

Following his indefinite suspension from UCLA, LiAngelo Ball's father, LaVar Ball, pulled him out of the school and is sending him and his brother LaMelo Ball to play professionally for Prienai Vytautas in Prienai, Lithuania. Bleacher Report looks at what the Balls are "getting themselves into." Other Americans who have played in Lithuania say it's "like living on a farm" and that the brothers will be playing for a coach who is "crazy," doesn't speak English, and has been known to sell players meat out of the trunk of his car after practice. "Those boys LiAngelo and LaMelo will be home within a month," one player says. Meanwhile, it sounds like the brothers won't be earning a paycheck in Lithuania, instead being compensated through guaranteed playing time and a car. It seems like all sides recognize the situation is a "publicity stunt" to get attention and sell jerseys.

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