Son of outspoken LaVar Ball and brother of NBA rookie Lonzo Ball, UCLA Basketball athlete Liangelo Ball and two of his UCLA teammates were detained and were under suspicion for shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store near the team's hotel in Shanghai. UCLA men’s basketball was in China for their opening game against Georgia Tech. According to a recent report from Yahoo Sports, an unnamed lawyer told Dan Wetzel that the trio could now be facing a 3- to 10-year prison sentence if convicted, depending on the amount the Chinese can prove they allegedly stole.
The players were arrested last week on Tuesday when Chinese officials came to the hotel and questioned both UCLA and Georgia Tech players before taking the three UCLA players. The other players arrested were Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, all of whom are freshmen. LaVar has been advised not to make public statements on the matter as he is known to make bold claims to the media.
The players were at risk of being detained for more than a month as Chinese law enforcement usually takes a month to decide whether to press charges or not. So even if the Chinese officials deem the evidence insufficient to make a case, the athletes could be detained for at least a month.
According to the Bleacher Report, President Donald Trump, who was visiting China last week on a tour of Asia, said he personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to assist on the matter.
“President Xi has been terrific on the subject,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One, following the conclusion of his trip Tuesday.“What they did was unfortunate,” Trump added. “You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. They do not play games.”
Following their return to the United States from China on Tuesday, Trump tweeted the following: "To the three UCLA basketball players I say: You're welcome, go out and give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China who made your release possible and, HAVE A GREAT LIFE! Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!"
While it isn't yet clear what legal ramifications the players may face, all three players were suspended indefinitely from the UCLA basketball team, according to ESPN.