Former UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball now says his decision to thank President Trump for helping win his release from a Chinese jail was forced on him by the university.

Ball and two other players -- who had been arrested for shoplifting in Hangzhou -- thanked Trump in a Nov. 15 press conference after the president successfully appealed to Chinese President Xi Jinping to release them from jail.

In an interview on "The Breakfast Club" radio show on Wednesday, Ball said UCLA forced the apology from the players.


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"My school wanted to hear it," he recalled. "Before I went up there, it was like, 'You’ve got to thank him.' I just threw him in there real quick right before I gave my speech. ... If they didn’t tell me to do it, it wouldn’t have been in there, to be honest."

He said the school's request came after Trump publicly called out the players on Twitter for not thanking him.

Ball's father, LaVar, announced last week that LiAngelo would leave UCLA to play professionally in Lithuania along with his younger brother, LaMelo. Their older brother, Lonzo Ball, is in his rookie year with the Lakers after playing one year at UCLA.

After his son's apology, LaVar Ball feuded with Trump, who called on the outspoken CEO of the Big Baller Brand to also express gratitude.

In a contentious interview last month, Ball refused to thank the president

"I don't care and I don't know. If [Trump] said he helped, that's good for his mind," he said. "If you helped, you shouldn't have to say anything."


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