Trump asked Chinese president to release USA basketball players

Three UCLA men's basketball players detained in China appear to be returning to the United States and they may have president Trump to thank.

LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were arrested and questioned about the alleged theft last Tuesday, and were released on bail Wednesday morning.

LiAngelo Ball is a younger brother of former UCLA star Lonzo Ball, now a rookie with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, who had not spoken with the three players, said what had occurred was a "very regrettable situation".

The three were arrested last week while their team was in the city of Hangzhou ahead of the squad's season opener in Shanghai.

Tuesday evening saw the players making their way through a media scrum after landing at Los Angeles International Airport.

"President Xi has been terrific on that subject", Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One, bound for Honolulu.

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At the press conference, the accused players also apologized for their actions and said they did not exercise the proper judgment. They were not on the team's return flight to the United States on Saturday.

ESPN reported that authorities have surveillance footage of the players stealing from three stores. It also helps that US Chief of Staff John F. Kelly remains in personal contact with Chinese authorities and the families of the players.

Since the matter did not occur on the court, it would be up to UCLA whether the players will be punished, Scott said.

"I want to be clear that we take seriously any violations of the law", he said.

During the press conference, all three players thanked the president and the US government for their help in helping to get them home.

However, some have pointed out that UCLA officials might be concerned with how well lengthy suspensions may sit with LaVar Ball, LiAngelo's father, who was with the Bruins in China when the arrests occurred and said of them, "It ain't that big of a deal".

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero confirmed Ball, Riley and Hill stole merchandise from three different stores, per Bonagura.

  • Megan Austin