UCLA Basketball Team Returns to US without 3 Players Arrested for Shoplifting

By That's Shanghai, November 13, 2017

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The three UCLA college basketball players arrested for shoplifting last week remain in China, ESPN reports. Their team returned to the United States on Sunday via a flight bound for Los Angeles.

Just days before the Pac-12 China game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai, freshmen Bruins players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were arrested in Hangzhou on Tuesday, November 7 under suspicion of shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team's hotel. None of the players were present during the Bruins' 63-60 win over the Yellow Jackets at Baoshan Sports Center on Saturday, November 11.

UCLA Georgia Tech
UCLA defeated Georgia Tech 63-60 during the men's college basketball game in Shanghai this weekend

According to ESPN, the three players were released on bail on the morning of Wednesday, November 8 and remain under house arrest in Hangzhou. An unnamed source close to the investigation tells ESPN the three will likely remain there for another week or two, and confirmed that CCTV footage shows the three players shoplifting from a high-end center that includes Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Salvatore Ferragamo stores.

The source also told ESPN that Hangzhou police are requiring the players to stay at the hotel until the legal process is complete.

As Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel notes, the three athletes in question face up to 10 years in Chinese prison — if standard practices are applied. According to Chinese law, “robbing public or private property using force, coercion, or other methods" is punishable by between three and 10 years in prison. But Chinese law experts say they're unlikely to face severe punishment.

Alibaba, the game's presenting sponsor, is said to be assisting the investigation. The two teams were touring the company's headquarters in Hangzhou last week.

Commenting on the incident before the game on Saturday, Alibaba executive vice chairman and co-founder Joseph Tsai said:

"Every young person makes mistakes, but the key point is how they will handle it after making the mistake. I think sometimes things can be very complicated, and the last couple of days I've seen firsthand professionalism on all sides."

LA Lakers star Lonzo Ball, LiAngelo Ball's older brother, said that his family was staying in China while the situation is sorted out. "We are handling it out here, so that's a good sign," he said. 

LiAngelo and Lonzo are the sons of outspoken basketball sneaker entrepreneur LaVar Ball. The family is the subject of the reality show Ball in the Family, which airs on Facebook.

Ball in the Family
LaMelo, Lonzo, LaVar and LiAngelo Ball

LaVar Ball was reportedly planning on addressing the media from his Shanghai hotel last week, though the press conference was later postponed; Ball was also advised by his council not to speak "due to the legal nature of the matter," according to ESPN senior writer Arash Markazi.

According to ESPN, the Ball family was filming the show while in Shanghai. They were scheduled to stay in China until Sunday before traveling to Hong Kong for a pop-up event for the shoe brand, Big Baller Brand (BBB).

[Image via ABC 7, RamblinWreck, SLAM]

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