3 UCLA basketball players, accused of shoplifting, back home from China

Leanne Suter Image
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
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Three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China have arrived home to Los Angeles after nearly a week under house arrest.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China arrived home to Los Angeles Tuesday night after nearly a week under house arrest.

The players were swarmed by photographers and reporters at Los Angeles International Airport as they walked toward a bus and left.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block released a statement hours earlier saying that LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were returning home.

He said the school's primary focus was to bring the students back home safely, but he also emphasized that the school takes any violations of the law seriously.

Block's statement, in part, read:

"When members of the UCLA family fail to uphold these values, we review these incidents with fair and thorough processes. In this particular case, both Athletics and the Office of Student Conduct will review this incident and guide any action with respect to the involved students."

Block also expressed gratitude to all those who helped bring the players back.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott also released a statement Tuesday, saying "the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities."

Scott's statement continued:

"We are all very pleased that these young men have been allowed to return home to their families and university.We are grateful for the role that our Chinese hosts played, and for the courtesy and professionalism of the local authorities. We also want to acknowledge UCLA's significant efforts on behalf of their student-athletes. Finally, we want to thank the President, the White House and the U.S. State Department for their efforts towards resolution.Despite this unfortunate incident, it is important to underscore that thanks to our hosts and partners - most notably Alibaba and the Federation University Sports China - the student-athletes from UCLA and Georgia Tech had memorable cultural, educational and athletic experiences that will enrich their lives and provide lifetime memories. That is what our Pac-12 China Game and full week is about. We look forward to next year's game between University of California, Berkeley and Yale, and many more rewarding experiences for our student-athletes."

This all comes just hours after President Donald Trump appealed to Chinese President Xi Jinping for some help regarding the situation.

Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he had a long conversation with Xi.

"When I heard about it two days ago, I had a great conversation with President Xi. What they did was unfortunate. You know, you're talking about very long prison sentences. They do not play games," Trump said.

Trump personally asked Xi for help with the situation while visiting Beijing last week, ABC News reported.

The White House said Xi assured Trump that he would "ensure the three players are treated fairly" and that the case moves toward a resolution.

The three freshman players were arrested last Tuesday on suspicion of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton boutique near the hotel where they were staying in China.

They were released on bail Wednesday morning but were placed on house arrest in their hotel rooms.

Sources had told ESPN that the three freshmen could remain in China for another week or two. The source also said there is surveillance video that shows the players allegedly shoplifting from three stores.

The rest of the team returned home over the weekend after their season opener against Georgia Tech.

The home opener for UCLA's basketball team is Wednesday evening.