Donald Trump says LiAngelo Ball, UCLA players facing long jail sentences

Paola Ditto
Novembre 14, 2017

The three UCLA basketball players who were arrested for shoplifting last week remained in China as of Tuesday, and reports have indicated that they could be punished with anything from a slap on the wrist to jail time.

The UCLA team had been in China for a game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai on Saturday, which UCLA won 63-60.

The young men - LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley - spent roughly a week in police-ordered detention at their hotel in Hangzhou, China, before they boarded a flight back to Los Angeles.

The three UCLA freshmen were suspected of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store adjacent to the hotel where the Bruins were staying in Hangzhou. But Trump said Tuesday that he had asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help.

Scott did not say how the case was resolved; a conviction of grand larceny in China could result in years of prison.

UCLA's trip coincided with Trump's two-day state visit to the Chinese capital, Beijing, as part of his 13-day trip to Asia. "He's been terrific", Trump added, in an apparent reference to Xi.

"We are grateful for the role that our Chinese hosts played, and for the courtesy and professionalism of the local authorities", Scott said. "We also want to acknowledge UCLA's significant efforts on behalf of their student-athletes".

A senior White House official said the players had been given relatively light treatment due to Trump's intervention.

Trump's request was first reported by the Washington Post.

Ball - a brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball - Riley and Hill are scheduled to speak to reporters at UCLA on Wednesday morning, along with UCLA head coach Steve Alford and Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, the school said. The teams had travelled to Hangzhou earlier in the week to visit the headquarters of the game's sponsor, Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Before the players' release, LiAngelo Ball's father, LaVar, had said in a statement on social media that the Chinese judicial process could take months.

The elder Ball has become a media personality by aggressively promoting his sons as future National Basketball Association superstars and had travelled to China on the trip to promote his Big Baller Brand shoe and apparel line. They do not play games.

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