“It’s a very, very rough situation with what happened to them,” President Donald Trump said. | Bullit Marquez/AP Trump speaks to Xi about UCLA players accused of theft
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he previously discussed the problem of 3 UCLA men’s basketball players arrested for shoplifting in China with Chinese President Xi Jinping, expressing wish that the 3 would soon be able to go back to the U.S.
“The basketball players, by the way — I know a lot of individuals are asking — I will let you know, when I heard about it two times ago, I had a great conversation with President Xi,” Trump said Tuesday. “What they have was unfortunate. You understand, you’re talking about lengthy prison sentences. They do not play games.”
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UCLA freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were arrested last week, accused of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton retail outlet near the team’s hotel. The Bruins have been in China for a casino game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai in which the three arrested players did not participate. Rather, Ball, Hill and Riley have remained in a hotel in China since being released on bail.
Beyond the president’s involvement, the UCLA shoplifting circumstance has garnered additional attention due to the involvement of Ball, younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers star rookie Lonzo Ball. Their outspoken dad, LaVar Ball, who provides released a sneaker and apparel business anchored in his sons’ basketball talent and superstars in a reality show about the friends and family that airs on Facebook, has said the problem “ain’t that big of a offer.”
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Trump said Xi is helping work towards a resolution of the players’ legal problem and was “terrific” in their conversation on the subject. Asked if the three UCLA players will come back home soon, Trump said “I am hoping so.”
“It’s a very, very rough situation with what happened to them,” Trump said. “President Xi provides been terrific on that subject. But that was not an excellent subject. That was not something that should have happened.”