Remember when President Donald Trump guilted LaVar Ball for not thanking him for helping with the release of his son, LiAngelo Ball, and two other UCLA basketball players from detainment in China?  Well, apparently, Trump flat-out lied about his role in the affair.

ESPN reported Friday that the UCLA players were already out of prison with flights booked for their return to the U.S. before the 45th president ever got involved. The trio were arrested for shoplifting during a college basketball tournament.

President Donald Trump (inset photo) lied about his involvement in the release of the three UCLA basketball players (Cody Riley, left, LiAngelo Ball, center, and Jalen Hill, right). who were detained in Hangzhou, China for shoplifting. (AP Photos)

“The situation was already resolved by the time we heard about Trump’s involvement,” a UCLA team source said, according to ESPN. “That’s not to take away from the fact that he got involved, but the players already had their passports back and their flights booked to go home Tuesday night when Gen. Kelly called the players.”

“The players were already checked into the hotel before the public discovered they were arrested,” the team source said. “They also were not under house arrest. It was our decision to keep them at the hotel until the situation was resolved. The charges were dropped, they weren’t reduced, and that happened two days before we heard from Gen. Kelly.”

In a series of November tweets, Trump claimed full credit for the return of the student athletes and criticized LaVar Ball for not publicly acknowledging and thanking the president for his getting his son home.

“It wasn’t the White House, itwasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence – IT WAS ME,” Trump tweeted at the time. “Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair. Just think LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!”

Although LiAngelo and the other players who were arrested did thank Trump for whatever involvement he may have had in their release, LaVar was never sold that the former reality TV star actually did anything to help.

“What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing,” Ball told ESPN. “Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

“If you help, you shouldn’t have to say anything,” he added. “Let him do his political affairs and let me handle my son, and let’s just stay in our lane.”

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor