On November 7, news broke that three UCLA basketball players had been arrested in China for shoplifting. Several teams, including UCLA, had traveled to China days earlier for a “global initiative” meant to attract overseas fans to the NCAA basketball league.

LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill reportedly attempted to steal sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team’s hotel in Hangzhou.

The trio of freshmen faced two to 10 years in prison for their crimes. Luckily, they had the support of the president of the United States, who worked with President Xi Jinping of China to get them home.

One week after Ball, Riley, and Hill were detained, they were able to return to America.


President Donald Trump tweeted an hour before their scheduled press conference, wondering if he would receive a thank you from the basketball players:

ESPN reported that Ball, Riley, and Hill each addressed the media separately. All three of them confessed to shoplifting, apologized for their “mistake,” and asked the nation for their forgiveness. They also thanked President Trump for helping them get home as quickly as they did.

Following their statements, UCLA head coach, Steve Alford, addressed the reporters in the room, saying, in part:

“These are good young men who have exercised an inexcusable lapse of judgment, and now they have to live with that. They let a lot of people down in the process. I’m extremely disappointed in their actions. […] They will have to earn their way back.”

President Trump tweeted again, after their teens made their statements, offering them some sage advice:

The incident further fueled the debate about whether college athletes should be paid to play, with some arguing that they should be paid to play because they don’t have enough time between school and practice to work for extra cash.

However, CBS Sports reporter Allie LaForce, begged to differ. She wrote on Twitter:

LaForce is referring to LiAngelo Ball’s father’s statements on the matter. LaVar Ball told reporters the day after his son was arrested:

“I’m going to wait until I get more intel on what’s going on. He’ll be fine. Everyone’s making it a big deal. It ain’t that big a deal.”

All three of the players have been suspended indefinitely.

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