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Posted: November 15, 2017

UCLA basketball players thank president for help after arrest in China

UCLA basketball players Cody Riley, left, LiAngelo Ball, right, and Jalen Hill, background center, are surrounded by the media as they leave the Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, in Los Angeles. The three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting returned home, where they may be disciplined by the school as a result of the international scandal. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/AP
UCLA basketball players Cody Riley, left, LiAngelo Ball, right, and Jalen Hill, background center, are surrounded by the media as they leave the Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, in Los Angeles. The three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting returned home, where they may be disciplined by the school as a result of the international scandal. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

By Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Three UCLA basketball players apologized on Wednesday and thanked authorities and President Donald Trump for the work done to get them home from China after they were accused of shoplifting.

>> Read more trending news

LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were questioned and arrested by police after they were accused of shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store next to their hotel in Hangzhou, China. If convicted, the trio would have faced 10-year sentences in China’s prison system.

Ball, Riley and Hill apologized to their team members, friends and family Wednesday at a news conference.

“I’d like to start off by saying sorry for stealing from the store from China. I didn’t exercise my best judgement, and I was wrong for that,” Ball said. “I also apologize to the people of China for causing them so much trouble. I’m a young man, however, that’s not an excuse for making a stupid decision.”

The trio also thanked their fellow teammates, school officials and the U.S. government for the work done to bring them back to the United States.

"To President Trump and the United States government, thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf," Riley said. "We really appreciate you helping us out."

Trump on Wednesday morning asked his followers on Twitter whether they thought the trio would thank him for his intervention.

“Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” he wrote.

Ball, Riley and Hill were released and allowed to return to the United States on Tuesday after Trump said he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping on their behalf.

“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, according to The Washington Post. “What they did was unfortunate. You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. (The Chinese) do not play games.”

UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford said on Wednesday that Ball, Riley and Hill will be “suspended indefinitely.”

"These are good young men who exercised an inexcusable lack of judgment," Alford said. “At some point, they may be permitted to join team workouts, practices and meetings, but that timeline has yet to be determined. They will have to earn their way back."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.


Related

Report: 3 UCLA basketball players to return to US after Chinese officials drop charges

AP

Report: 3 UCLA basketball players to return to US after Chinese officials drop charges

The three UCLA basketball players previously detained by Chinese police on shoplifting allegations were being allowed to return to the United States on Tuesday, according to a report by The Washington Post.

>> Read more trending news

LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were questioned and arrested by police after being accused of shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store next to their hotel in Hangzhou, China. The three players were released on bond Wednesday and did not play in Friday’s game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai, China.

>> Related: LiAngelo Ball, UCLA teammates arrested in China could get 10 years in prison if convicted

The report of the players’ release comes hours after President Donald Trump said he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the players’ case.

“They’re working on it right now... Hopefully everything is going to work out,” Trump told reporters on his tour of Asia, according to the Washington Post.

China Sports Insider reported Tuesday the charges of shoplifting were officially dropped for all three players.

LiAngelo Ball, UCLA teammates arrested in China could get 10 years in prison if convicted

Shoplifting is a relatively minor infraction in the United States, but not so in China. It could lead to a long prison sentence, according to multiple outlets — and that could be bad news for the three UCLA men’s basketball players reportedly accused of committing the crime Tuesday in Shanghai.

Bruins freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley could be sentenced to three to 10 years if convicted of “robbing public or private property using force, coercion or other methods,” according to Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel, citing the website for the Chinese mission to the United Nations.

The trio were detained Tuesday after allegedly shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store next to the hotel where UCLA is staying ahead of its season opener Friday against Georgia Tech. The most notable of the players is Ball, the younger brother of former UCLA star (and current Los Angeles Lakers rookie) Lonzo Ball and son of LaVar Ball.

>> Read more trending news 

LaVar Ball, who had planned a press conference but canceled it on the advice of his legal counsel, released the following statement:

"It is a very unfortunate situation that the Ball Family, and UCLA has to deal with at this particular time. We will comment shortly," he said, per ESPN's Arash Markazi.

William Nee, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Amnesty International, told Wetzel that those detained for crimes in China could “be detained for more than a month without American-style bail before local prosecutors even decide whether to press charges.” Nee added that the United States consulate could intervene to try and negotiate a quicker resolution to the case.

Nee added that the charges could also be greatly reduced and thus warrant a much more lenient sentence.

 

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