UCLA Players Shoplift in China


Bradford Clarkson, Sports Editor

The UCLA men’s basketball team recently had a preseason game against Georgia Tech in Hangzhou, China. A few days prior, three UCLA players were caught shoplifting from high-end stores in the Hangzhou area. Liangelo Ball (brother of NBA point guard Lonzo Ball), Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were all forced to stay in China as the situation with the police played out. It was speculated that the players could face up to 10 years in prison. The three were accused of stealing a pair of sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store and potentially faced jail time.

President Trump was on a trip to China to talk with Xi Jinping, the Chinese President, at the same time the boys were being held in jail. According to President Trump, they discussed the matter of the boys’ freedom. Soon after their conversation, the three players were released and returned back to UCLA. However, now with the players safely back in the states, father of Liangelo Ball, Lavar Ball, openly downplayed the role President Trump had in his son’s release.

“Who? What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out,” Ball said when asked about Trump’s contribution to his son’s release on ESPN. Lavar Ball is the father of three sons, known as the Ball brothers in basketball. Trump did not take kindly to the lack of gratitude displayed by Ball and fired back at him on Twitter.

“Lavar Ball, father of Liangelo Ball, is unaccepting of what I did and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!”

Liangelo was apologetic and grateful for the help he received from the president.

“I’d like to start off by saying sorry for stealing from the stores in China, I didn’t exercise my best judgement and I was wrong for that,” Ball said. “I would also like to thank Donald Trump and the United States government for the help that they provided.”

President Trump was satisfied with the apology and sent out his last tweet on the matter.

“You’re welcome, go out and give a big thank you to President Xi Jinping who made your release possible and, HAVE A GREAT LIFE!” Trump wrote. Lavar Ball felt the need to give his final words as well.

“As long as my boy’s back I’m fine,” Ball said. “I’m happy the way things were handled.” However, Ball went on to say in an interview with ESPN, “They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes. I’m from L.A. I’ve seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some sunglasses.”

The final outcome of all this controversy and turmoil was that the three players were suspended indefinitely from their sport by the NCAA. Lavar Ball is unhappy with the fact that his son cannot play in games and has pulled Liangelo out of UCLA.

“We are exploring other options with Gelo. He’s out of there,” Ball told ESPN. He plans on training Liangelo to prepare him for the NBA draft. The question now becomes whether or not Liangelo will actually make it to the league.

“Ex-UCLA freshman LiAngelo Ball has no chance that he’ll be drafted in June — and that was true before his shoplifting incident in China,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said.