Report: Donald Trump Impact Unclear in LiAngelo Ball, UCLA Shoplifting Case

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2018

UCLA basketball player Cody Riley, left, reads his statement as he is joined by teammates LiAngelo Ball, center, and Jalen Hill during a news conference at UCLA Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, in Los Angeles. Three UCLA NCAA college basketball players accused of shoplifting in China admitted to the crime and apologized before coach Steve Alford announced they were being suspended indefinitely. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The UCLA shoplifting case involving LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley in China during the Bruins' trip to Shanghai for a season-opening game against Georgia Tech was reportedly resolved before the program learned of involvement by United States President Donald Trump

Arash Markazi of ESPN.com reported Friday that a team source noted the timeline makes it unclear whether Trump's discussion with the president of China, Xi Jinping, had an impact.

"The situation was already resolved by the time we heard about Trump's involvement," the UCLA source said. "That's not to take away from the fact that he got involved, but the players already had their passports back and their flights booked to go home Tuesday night when Gen. Kelly called the players."

The source also told Markazi it was the program's decision to check the involved players into a local hotel—they were not under house arrest as previously reported.

Trump and LaVar Ball, the outspoken father of LiAngelo, became embroiled in a public war of words after the situation played out.

The president posted a message on Twitter after Ball refused to thank him:

Meanwhile, Ball told CNN's Chris Cuomo he wasn't sure whether Trump actually helped the process and didn't know why he was so intent on being thanked.

"If you help, you shouldn't have to say anything," he said. "Let him do his political affairs and let me handle my son and let's just stay in our lane."

Ball later told TMZ Sports he sent Trump a pair of Big Baller Brand shoes.

The players involved were placed under indefinite suspension by the Bruins. LiAngelo Ball decided to leave the program and has since signed with Prienai-Birstonas Vytautas in Lithuania, where he plays alongside younger brother LaMelo Ball.

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