LiAngelo Ball, brother of the Lakers’ Lonzo Ball and son of the inimitable LaVar Ball, is the most widely known of the three UCLA basketball players arrested last week on charges of shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou, China. Ball and his teammates have finally been released by authorities — and, whether ESPN likes it or not, they’ve got President Trump to thank for it.
The players — Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill — were arrested last Tuesday for allegedly attempting to steal sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store, authorities initially threatening the three young men with the possibility of ten years in prison.
Early Tuesday morning, the players were released from Chinese custody and safely boarded a 9 a.m. Delta flight to come home, according to the Wall Street Journal. Their release came less than 24 hours after Trump personally intervened on their behalf in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Trump spoke with the Chinese president on Monday while on a two-day trip to Beijing. The Washington Post reports that President Trump revealed that he had brought up the players’ release amid a discussion of other topics, including a bilateral trade deal and the nuclear threat posed by North Korea.
“They’re working on it right now,” Trump told the press Monday. “Hopefully everything is going to work out,” he added.
A report by ESPN over the weekend indicated that the players would at least have to stay for another “week or two” and that authorities say they have surveillance footage showing the players shoplifting not just from Louis Vuitton, but two other stores.
“A source with firsthand knowledge of the investigation said the players could be in Hangzhou for a ‘week or two,'” ESPN reported. “The source noted that there is surveillance footage of the players shoplifting from three stores inside of a high-end shopping center, which houses Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Salvatore Ferragamo stores.”
H/T Daily Caller