US President Donald Trump on Monday hit out at three UCLA basketball players, saying he should have left them jailed in China for shoplifting, citing lack of sufficient gratitude.
The players were arrested earlier this month for shoplifting from three stores near their hotel, according to UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero. Police identified them after searching their bags and finding the stolen items.
Trump was on Asia tour at the time of the players’ arrest and had reportedly asked the Chinese President Xi Jinping to help resolve their case. Soon after Trump's visit, the three basketball players were released by the country.
The players thanked Trump and apologised for their actions in a press conference shortly after their release.
Former basketball player and father of player Li Angelo, LaVar Ball, however, brushed off Trump’s role in his son's release from the Chinese prison.
“What was he there for? Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out," LaVar told ESPN.
Trump took to Twitter on Monday to condemn the father saying:
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar. Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
The three players have been suspended indefinitely from the UCLA basketball programme while the school reviews the situation.