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LiAngelo Ball, UCLA Players Thank Donald Trump; Suspended for China Incident

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistNovember 15, 2017

UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball keeps his head down as he leaves Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, in Los Angeles. Three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting returned home, where they may be disciplined by the school as a result of the international scandal. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

UCLA basketball players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill spoke with the media Wednesday for the first time since they returned home from China after being detained on suspicion of shoplifting. 

Per ESPN.com's Kyle Bonagura, all three players thanked President Donald Trump and the United States government for helping to handle the situation. 

Earlier in the day, Trump sent out a tweet asking if Ball, Riley and Hill would thank him for his efforts with the Chinese government and authorities:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!

Per ESPN.com's Jeff Borzello, UCLA head coach Steve Alford announced the three freshmen have been suspended indefinitely and won't travel with the team. 

"I'm a young man; however, it's not an excuse for making a really stupid decision," Ball said (via Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the Southern California News Group).  

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

Guerrero also said charges against the trio were withdrawn, but they did admit to being guilty, per Nguyen

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Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball told reporters (via Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times) he hasn't seen LiAngelo since his brother returned to the United States. 

"Nice to have him back," Lonzo said. "Obviously he made a mistake, but just gotta learn from it and move on."

ESPN's Jeff Goodman reported last Wednesday that Ball, Riley and Hill were being questioned by Chinese authorities for stealing items from a Louis Vuitton store by the UCLA team hotel. 

The men's basketball team was in China for a game against Georgia Tech on Saturday, which the Bruins won, 63-60. 

Per Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports, Chinese law called for penalties between three and 10 years in prison for anyone convicted of "robbing public or private property using force, coercion, or other methods."

The players departed from Shanghai and landed back in the United States on Tuesday night, per James T. Areddy of the Wall Street Journal

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement released Tuesday that "the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities."

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