President Donald Trump escalated his verbal attacks on LaVar Ball, calling the former pro athlete-turned-businessman and reality TV star an “ungrateful fool” and “poor man’s version of Don King.”
In a series of early morning tweets on Wednesday, the president stepped up his insults toward Ball for what he considered a lack of gratitude for Trump’s efforts free Lavar’s son LiAngelo Ball from possible prison after a shoplifting arrest earlier this month in China.
“It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’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,” the president wrote.
He went on to slam Ball, who in a Monday CNN interview had refused to credit the president’s efforts to gain release for LiAngelo and two other UCLA basketball players, as “just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair.”
The freshman and two classmates admitted to stealing merchandise from stores in China, where a shoplifting conviction could lead to a 10-year prison sentence. They publicly thanked the president last Wednesday, after some prompting by an earlier presidential tweet.
LaVar Ball, the star of the Facebook reality series “Ball in the Family” about his family of athletic prodigies, was not so quick to give thanks. (In addition to LiAngelo, Ball’s sons include L.A. Lakers Lonzo Ball and high schooler LaMelo Ball.)
“But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!” the president concluded, making the most of Twitter’s new maximum character count.
Don King, the longtime professional boxing promoter convicted of second-degree murder in 1967, campaigned for Trump last year.
Trump also provocatively retweeted a message from a supporter with a crude description of his former Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. “If Hillary got my kid out of prison, as much as I hate the woman, I’d thank her corrupt ass!” wrote conservative talk radio host Joey Mannarino.