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Three UCLA basketball players who were arrested on shoplifting charges during the team’s trip to China have apologized for their actions and thanked President Donald Trump for helping secure their release and return to America. The trio faced a potential sentence of 10 years in a Chinese prison.
LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley read statements Wednesday at a press conference alongside Bruins coach Steve Alford upon their return to California.
“I didn’t exercise my best judgment and I’m sorry for that,” said Ball, the brother of former UCLA star and current Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball. “This does not define who I am. My family raised me better than that.”
You can watch the press conference below:
The players were accused of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store in their team hotel in Hangzhou ahead of the Bruins game against Georgia Tech. They were released on bail and had been staying at the hotel until their release Tuesday. Their arrests came while Trump was on his Asia trip and he was also in China at the time. Trump spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping and said he encouraged him to allow the players to be released.
“I had a great conversation with President Xi and what they did was unfortunate, you’re talking about very long prison sentences, they do not play games,” Trump said on Air Force One on Tuesday. “He was terrific and they’re working on it right now. And hopefully everything is going to work out. And I know they (the players) were very grateful because they were told exactly what happened. It’s a very, very rough situation with what happened with them. President Xi has been terrific on that subject.”
Wednesday’s press conference came shortly after Trump, who also returned home to the United States on Tuesday, took to Twitter to call for the UCLA players to thank him. “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” he wrote Wednesday morning.
Alford, UCLA’s coach, said the players have been suspended indefinitely. They could also face discipline from the PAC-12, the conference the Bruins play in, the NCAA and the school.
“They will have to earn their way back,” Alford said at the press conference. “These are good young men who have exercised an inexcusable lapse of judgment, and now they have to live with that.”