*LiAngelo Ball will not be transferring from UCLA to another college and will instead begin preparing himself to go straight to the NBA, despite being a longshot to be drafted.
The athlete and his famously outspoken dad, LaVar Ball, hit the “Today” show Tuesday to explain LiAngelo’s withdrawal from the Bruin basketball team after the school suspended him and two other players indefinitely for shoplifting in China.
“China already said, ‘OK, he made a bad mistake, we’re gonna drop the charges. That’s the punishment they gave him, now we over here. And we gotta serve some more punishment?” LaVar told “Today’s” Natalie Morales from their home in Chino Hills, California.
“He already fessed up for what he did. He apologized. What is the long process for? We only went to UCLA – one and done – to play basketball.”
The Balls claimed UCLA was going to suspend LiAngelo for two to three months.
“That’s the whole season pretty much,” LiAngelo said. “That’s just a long time of doing nothing – I’d rather be playing.”
“I am going to get Gelo in shape,” LaVar said. “I’m gonna work him out. We gonna do some other things, and he’s gonna be headed to the NBA.”
LiAngelo also spoke for the first time about the actual shoplifting.
“We all went out one night, went through the malls, went to the Louis Vuitton store, and people started taking stuff and me just not thinking and being with them, I took something, too,” LiAngelo told Morales. “We left thinking we’d just get away. You know how kids think. I didn’t realize until I got back to my hotel, I’m like ‘That was stupid.’ But by then it was too late and then sure enough, the next morning, the police came and got us.”
The three spent a day and a half in jail until the charges were eventually dropped after Donald Trump spoke about the incident with Chinese president Xi Jinping. LiAngelo thanked Trump for his help at a press conference, but LaVar declined to thank the president, resulting in Trump lashing out on Twitter and calling LaVar “an ungrateful fool.”
“I don’t just be saying thank you because somebody said they did something,” LaVar told Morales. “And if they did it, genuinely, do you really need to come up to me and say boy you better thank me?”
LaVar did, however, say that he sent three pairs of his Big Baller brand sneakers to Trump. Lonzo, LaMelo and now LiAngelo all have signature shoes with the brand.
“I sent (Trump) three pairs – red, white and blue to show him we patriotic,” LaVar said.
LaVar says LiAngelo’s withdrawal from the UCLA basketball team has not derailed his master plan of having all three of his sons play for the same team in the NBA.
“All these boys are gonna get on the Lakers,” LaVar said. “Watch how I do this, and people gonna look up and they gonna say “Wow, how’d they all get on the Lakers?”‘
“I just want to play period,” LiAngelo said. “I’m not worried about money. And playing with ‘Zo and Melo, playing with my brothers in LA, that’s like paying me right there.”
Watch the entire interview below:
LiAngelo’s departure from UCLA comes after he was caught shoplifting last month with UCLA teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill during a team trip to Huangzhou, China.
LaVar’s oldest son, Lonzo, is a rookie point guard with the Los Angeles Lakers, and his youngest son, LaMelo, is a high school phenom whom LaVar also had removed from his school as a junior this year.