Three UCLA basketball players — LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley — took the podium at a press conference today to read statements apologizing for their conduct and thanking President Donald Trump for intervening in a shoplifting case that could have earned each of them ten years in prison.
UCLA ballplayer Cody Riley thanks Pres Trump for intervening to get him and fellow players released from detention in China for shoplifting. "We really appreciate you helping us out," he says of Pres Trump. They apologize for their actions. pic.twitter.com/a1p7QfI5NE
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) November 15, 2017
The UCLA basketball team was in China to play its season opener against Georgia Tech when the alleged theft occurred.
The three players, all freshmen, allegedly stole Louis Vuitton sunglasses from a retail location in Hangzhou last week, according to ESPN. UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero clarified the incident, saying that the players stole from three store in total before being arrested. Bail amounting to $2200 was posted to secure the release of the three and then refunded once charges were withdrawn.
Players also thanked the Chinese police and government for their handling of the situation.
The three players returned home Tuesday after a 12-hour flight from Shanghai, according to the Daily Mail.
All three players will be “suspended indefinitely” from the UCLA basketball program as UCLA athletics determines an appropriate punishment for the three. They will not be allowed to suit up for a home game or travel for away games.
“These are good young men who have exercised an inexcusable lapse of judgment,” said UCLA basketball head coach Steve Alford. “They will have to earn their way back.”
Trump worked with Chinese President Xi to secure the release of the players at the end of his Asian tour.
Hours before the press conference, Trump publicly wondered if he’d be thanked by the players.