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The Pac-12 Conference commissioner thanked President Donald Trump for negotiating the release of three UCLA basketball players after their arrests last week.
The players were arrested for "theft of goods” — specifically sunglasses — at the Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou, China, before UCLA was scheduled to play a special overseas game against Georgia Tech, according to CBS Sports.
LiAngelo Ball, who is the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were under house arrest at their hotel after being arrested by Chinese police last week.
However, they boarded a flight back to Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Trump told reporters that he personally spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about getting the three released:
Pres. Trump on UCLA basketball players in China: “President Xi has been terrific on that subject, but that was not a good subject. That was not something that should have happened.” https://t.co/lENbZmg7uS pic.twitter.com/Twa7hOK2mF
— ABC News (@ABC) November 14, 2017
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott issued a statement thanking Trump and the U.S. Department of State for getting the three freed:
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott confirms the release of the UCLA trio arrested in China pic.twitter.com/rJcxlB7JJW
— Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) November 14, 2017
Here’s part of his statement:
We are all very pleased that these young men have been allowed to return home to their families and university. ...
We want to thank the president, the White House and the U.S. State Department for their efforts towards resolution.
TMZ reported that Ball’s family is currently doing a Kardashian-like reality show called “Ball in the Family” and was accompanied by a camera crew on the China trip:
The LiAngelo Ball shoplifting arrest was NOT captured by the family's reality TV crew — and now producers are debating whether to even cover the arrest on the show at all, TMZ Sports has learned.
“Ball in the Family” producers initially sent cameras to China to document the family as they support LiAngelo during his first game with the UCLA basketball team. LaVar and LaMelo were also on the trip. It was supposed to be the usual zany Ball family drama.
In addition to Trump and Xi, Jack Ma, the owner of Chinese software giant Alibaba, was involved in the trip and subsequent efforts to get the players freed.
Ball’s father told ESPN that the incident was blown out of proportion:
LaVar Ball said, “I'm going to wait until I get more intel on what's going on” before he comments on LiAngelo Ball's arrest but said he's not worried. “He'll be fine,” he said. “Everyone's making it a big deal. It ain't that big a deal.” pic.twitter.com/E7QuMaMsNU
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) November 8, 2017
Maybe he hadn’t heard what happened to the last college student who was imprisoned by an unfriendly communist nation for stealing a poster off the wall of a hotel.
Otto Warmbier was imprisoned, tortured and then returned to the United States from North Korea in a comatose state before dying days later.
SB Nation reported that former UCLA and NBA great Bill Walton was absolutely disgusted with the scandal, saying:
Our host, Alibaba, the people, they have been better than perfect in everything. They’ve done everything right to make this all work. Now, members of our family have displayed an appalling lack of honor, lack of respect, lack of decency by doing something in someone else’s home that they’d never do in their own. I’d like to apologize right now on behalf of the human race for this travesty.
And he gets the last word.
See Trump’s statement below.