H/T Thomas Ventimiglia
While President Trump and First Lady Melania are proudly representing the United States in China, three UCLA basketball players have been arrested there for shoplifting.
In the United States, shoplifting is a fairly serious offense, typically punishable by restitution and probation. In China, the punishment can be three to ten years in prison.
SHANGHAI (ESPN) — Three UCLA men’s basketball players — including LiAngelo Ball, the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball — were released on bail early Wednesday morning in Hangzhou, China, after being arrested for allegedly shoplifting Tuesday afternoon, a source told ESPN.
The three players, a group that also includes freshmen Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, were questioned about allegedly stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team’s hotel in Hangzhou, where the Bruins had been staying before leaving for Shanghai on Wednesday.
“The players were treated with the utmost respect, kindness and professionalism at all times by the Hangzhou police,” the source, who had firsthand knowledge of the release, told ESPN. “The players questioned were respectful at all times. None of this was confrontational.”
Police arrived early Tuesday morning at the Hyatt Regency in Hangzhou, where both UCLA and Georgia Techwere staying ahead of their Friday matchup in Shanghai, and questioned three players from each team. Team representatives and interpreters were with the players during that time, according to a source.
Afterward, Ball, Riley and Hill were taken to the police station in Hangzhou, where they were kept for a number of hours. UCLA representatives, including coach Steve Alford, were at the police station along with the players.
Ball, Riley and Hill were released around 4 a.m. Wednesday and were staying at a luxury hotel in Hangzhou along with a UCLA representative, according to a source. They are being required by Hangzhou police to remain at the hotel until the legal process is over, the source said.
Alford rejoined the rest of UCLA’s team in Shanghai on Wednesday morning after the players were released. The coach said the three players involved would not play against Georgia Tech and referred to a previous statement released by the school.
“We are aware of a situation involving UCLA student-athletes in Hangzhou, China,” UCLA said in a statement. “The University is cooperating fully with local authorities on this matter, and we have no further comment at this time.”
In a statement, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the conference was directing specific questions about what transpired to UCLA.
“We are very disappointed by any situation that detracts from the positive student-athlete educational and cultural experience that this week is about,” Scott said. “Whether in the United States or abroad, we expect our student-athletes to uphold the highest standards. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
UCLA practiced Wednesday before visiting Shanghai Disneyland.
LaVar Ball; his wife, Tina; and son LaMelo Ball were having breakfast with the UCLA team in Shanghai on Wednesday morning. LaVar and his family are being filmed while in China for the Facebook reality show “Ball in the Family,” which was renewed for a second season last month.
LaVar was expected to address the media from his hotel suite Wednesday morning in Shanghai, but he said he was advised by legal counsel not to speak “due to the legal nature of the matter.”
As he was leaving the hotel later Wednesday, LaVar said: “I’m going to wait until I get some more intel on what’s going on, and then I can tell you what’s up.”
Asked if he was worried about LiAngelo, LaVar said, “He’ll be fine. He’ll be fine. Everybody making it a big deal. It ain’t that big of a deal.”
LaVar later released a statement about the allegations against LiAngelo: “It is a very unfortunate situation that the Ball family and UCLA has to deal with at this particular time. We will comment shortly.”