President Trump asked whether the three UCLA basketball players arrested in China last week would thank him following their release.
It’s been a difficult week for UCLA basketball. While on a trip to China to showcase NCAA sports, three Bruins players were arrested for allegedly shoplifting sunglasses from a store. The three freshman, including LaVar Ball’s middle son, LiAngelo, were detained and missed the team’s opening game versus Georgia Tech.
The three players could have faced prison time. However, President Trump, who was on a trip to China at the time of the incident, was able to get the students released. After a conversation between Trump and China’s President, Xi Jinping, Ball and teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill returned to Los Angeles.
The New York Times reported that President Trump’s staff learned about the incident on CNN. The three UCLA players were detained last week and charged with stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store near the team hotel. Trump was scheduled for a diplomatic trip to Beijing. During his visit, Trump was able to negotiate the release of the trio.
The commissioner for the PAC-12, Larry Scott, thanked President Trump for helping get the players released. After landing back in Los Angeles, they were greeted by cameras and questions. They were also the target of President Trump’s Twitter account.
According to the story in the Times, theft in China can “bring punishment ranging from a few days to years in prison,” while ESPN’s Arash Markazi reported the players could have been jailed for a one or two weeks. Trump’s tweet, then, was likely false. Whether the players thank him anyway remains to be seen.