The three UCLA basketball players detained on shoplifting allegations last week in China have made it back to the U.S. — a move that prompted Twitter commentary from President Donald Trump.
On Nov. 14, players Cody Riley, Jaden Hill and middle son of Big Baller Brand founder LaVar Ball, LiAngelo Ball, returned home after getting arrested on charges of shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton boutique in Hangzhou. UCLA’s team, benched the three players after they were released on bail, was on a weeklong trip to China to play a basketball game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai. They now face disciplinary hearings from the school.
The players’ detainment has also caused an outcry in various sports circles, particularly after LaVar Ball said that his son’s arrest “ain’t that big a deal.”
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“I want to be clear that we take seriously any violations of the law,” UCLA chancellor Gene Block said in a statement. “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.”
On Wednesday, Trump weighed in on the players’ arrest, which coincided with his 12-day state visit to Asia.
“Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” Trump tweeted, referring to China’s strict sentences for shoplifting. While waiting to depart the Philippines on Air Force One, Trump also told reporters that he had talked to Chinese President Xi Jinping about releasing the players.
Still, it remains unclear just how big a role Trump played in the players’ release — and what the next disciplinary steps for the players will be on their home turf.