The three UCLA men’s basketball players who were detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting are now on their way home, according to Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. The young men — LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley — spent roughly a week in police-ordered detention at their hotel in Hangzhou, China, before they boarded a flight back to Los Angeles.
“The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities,” Scott said in a statement released Tuesday. “We are all very pleased that these young men have been allowed to return home to their families and university.”
Scott also said the athletic conference was “grateful for the role that our Chinese hosts played” and thanked President Trump, his administration and the State Department “for their efforts toward resolution.”
Trump, who was wrapping up his 12-day trip through Asia, said that he had advocated for the UCLA players, who had been in China for an exhibition of Pac-12 teams.
“I had a great conversation” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump told reporters Tuesday before leaving Manila. “What they did was unfortunate. You’re talking about very long prison sentences. They do not play games. He was terrific and they’re working on it right now.”
“President Xi has been terrific on that subject,” Trump added. “It was not a good subject. It was not something that should have happened.”
ESPN explained how the players got into this situation:
“The players were questioned last week 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 to face Georgia Tech on Saturday. They were released on bail early Wednesday morning and had been staying at a lakeside hotel in Hangzhou since then.
“A source told ESPN’s Arash Markazi that there is surveillance footage of the players shoplifting from three stores inside a high-end shopping center, which houses Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Salvatore Ferragamo stores.
“An anonymous U.S. official told The Washington Post that charges against the three players have been reduced.”
The UCLA men’s basketball team had already returned to the U.S. without the three freshmen athletes.
Scott says he expects the Pac-12 China Game to be held again next year.