UCLA players apologize for shoplifting in China, thank Trump

Casey Dawson
November 16, 2017

On Wednesday morning, Mr Trump tweeted: "Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump?"

Ball, Hill and Riley were greeted at Los Angeles International Airport by a throng of media on their return, but they walked out of the airport without comment and got into a waiting van.

The three, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley and LiAngelo Ball - younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball - also apologized to their families and their school, while thanking the Chinese cops for treating them well.

Their visit to China overlapped with President Donald Trump's, and the president encouraged his Chinese counterpart to pardon and release the players. Trump described Xi's response as "terrific". Trump was in the Philippine capital for a summit of Asian leaders.

"The basketball players, by the way - I know a lot of people are asking - I will tell you, when I heard about it two days ago, I had a great conversation with President Xi", Trump said via the Washington Post.

The effort was successful as the three players returned home late Tuesday afternoon, where they may be disciplined by the school as a result of the worldwide scandal. "And hopefully everything is going to work out", Trump said on board Air Force One, before word of the trio's return appeared. They were placed under house arrest at the luxury hotel and were not permitted to play in UCLA's season-opening game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai on Friday.

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"We are grateful for the role that our Chinese hosts played, and for the courtesy and professionalism of the local authorities".

The players were detained November 7 on suspicion of shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton next to the team's hotel in Hangzhou.

They were released from police custody early on Wednesday and had been confined to a luxury hotel pending legal proceedings. Now it's up to UCLA, possibly with some input from the Pac-12 Conference, to determine how the three freshmen should atone for what is a very embarrassing incident for the school.

"I'm just glad it's resolved and that they're on the way home safely", he told Reuters by telephone from an Anti-Defamation League Sports Leadership Council event in San Francisco. Any discipline the players may face would be up to UCLA, AP reported.

"We take seriously any violations of the law", wrote Chancellor Gene Block in an email addressed to the campus community.

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