UCLA freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill have been suspended from the basketball team indefinitely after returning from a trip to China, where they were held for shoplifting.
“They will have to earn their way back,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said during a news conference Wednesday.
The three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China apologized and thanked President Donald Trump on the same day he suggested they should express gratitude for his role in helping them avoid jail time.
“To President Trump and the United States government, thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf. We really appreciate you helping us out,” Cody Riley, one of the players, said during a Wednesday press conference.
After Chinese police arrested the players, Trump warned that their crime, which he called “unfortunate,” could have been punished with 10 years in jail:
Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2017
Trump specifically reached out to Chinese President Xi Jinping to help resolve the players’ case, an effort that appeared to result in their release and return to the United States on Tuesday.
Police arrested them under suspicion that they stole designer sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store near their hotel.
The team traveled to China in order to play a season-opening game against Georgia Tech on Saturday.
According to ESPN, the three UCLA players have since been suspended. “They will have to earn their way back,” Coach Steve Alford said of the trio.
Watch the players’ comments below, via CNN.