UCLA Basketball Players Arrested for Robbery in China Return to United States
ESPN reported Tuesday that three UCLA freshmen basketball players, LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill, and Cody Riley, are set to return to the United States after having been detained in China for over a week for shoplifting. The PAC-12 conference confirmed that the three players are scheduled to land in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the three players were spotted checking into a Delta flight at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai.
Last week, Ball, Hill and Riley were taken into custody by police in Hangzhou on suspicion of shoplifting. ESPN reported that surveillance footage shows the three players stealing from three stores, including Louis Vuitton, inside a shopping center. The Washington Post earlier reported that a U.S. official said that the charges against the players had been reduced. They were released on bail after being taken into custody last Tuesday, and they have been staying at a nearby hotel ever since.
President Donald Trump, who just concluded a two-week trip to Asia, said that he discussed the matter with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Before returning to the U.S., Trump said, “They’re working on it right now. He (Xi) has been terrific, but it was not a good subject. That was not something that should have happened.”
PAC-12 commissioner Larry Scott issued a statement on the matter, saying, “We are grateful for the role that our Chinese hosts played, and for the courtesy and professionalism of the local authorities. We also want to acknowledge UCLA’s significant efforts on behalf of their student-athletes. Finally, we want to thank the president, the White House and the U.S. State Department for their efforts towards resolution.”
There was a chance that the players could have faced significant jail time in China if convicted of the crimes, but the two sides were able to come to a peaceful resolution that allowed for the student-athletes to return to the United States.
UCLA’s chancellor Gene Block released a statement in which he said he was “grateful” that the players had been allowed to return home. The three players, along with UCLA head coach Steve Alford and athletic director Dan Guerrero, are slated to hold a press conference on Wednesday. Block said that the school will investigate the incident and decide on what punitive action will be taken against the players.
Block’s statement said, “I want to be clear that we take seriously any violations of the law. We remain one of the world’s top academic institutions in large part because of our values and standards, which we work hard to infuse throughout our campus community. When members of the UCLA family fail to uphold these values, we review these incidents with fair and thorough processes. In this particular case, both Athletics and the Office of Student Conduct will review this incident and guide any action with respect to the involved students.”
The team came back to the U.S. without the players in question this past Saturday. UCLA is slated to play its regular season home opener on Wednesday against Central Arkansas, though there is no word regarding whether Ball, Hill, or Riley will be eligible to play.
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