BEIJING, CHINA—Three members of the UCLA Bruins basketball team were released from detention in China on Tuesday, November 14 after being arrested for shoplifting a week before.
UCLA Basketball player LiAngelo Ball was among those detained by Chinese authorities. The other two players were Cody Riley and Jalen Hill. LiAngelo is the younger brother of current Los Angeles Lakers rookie star Lonzo Ball.
The UCLA basketball team was visiting China as part the Pac-12 division’s annual overseas game. Ball, Riley, and Hill were arrested three days before UCLA was scheduled to play Georgia Tech. UCLA went on to win the game 63-60.
The players were caught stealing Louis Vuitton sunglasses from a store at the hotel where the Bruins were staying. According to reports, the players could have faced between 3 to 10 years each for their roles in the theft if convicted of grand larceny.
Their release comes after United States President Donald Trump asked Chinese president Xi Jinping to resolve the players’ legal issues during his foreign affairs tour of Asia. UCLA has suspended the players indefinitely.
“I’m grateful for this UCLA team that stood strong beside us, and made it possible for me to be sitting here in front of you all today,” said LiAngelo Ball during a press conference on November 15. “I’m grateful to be back home and I’ll never make a mistake like this again.”
LiAngelo stars in the reality series “Ball In The Family” that airs on Facebook. The show documents the personal and professional lives of the members of the Ball family, including older brother Lonzo and father patriarch, LaVar Ball. According to Facebook media representative Willem Suyderhoud the company is not commenting on the incident.
LaVar Ball discredited President Trump’s role in his son’s release from Chinese authorities.
Trump responded on Sunday, November 19 by tweeting:
“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!” Trump followed up that tweet stating, “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!”
Written By Dylan Gera and Casey Jacobs