Nov 14, 2017, 10:40 PM ET

UCLA basketball players return to US after Chinese release them in shoplifting case


The three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China have returned to the United States. The players were swarmed by reporters upon landing at Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday afternoon.

The players were peppered with questions from reporters and paparazzi as they made their way to a bus to be driven back to campus. They did not respond to any questions.

Earlier in the day, it was confirmed by the Pac-12 that the students had been released from their hotel, where they were being held, and were on the way home.

"The three UCLA men’s basketball student-athletes involved in the incident with authorities in Hangzhou, China are on a flight back home to Los Angeles, and the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement.

The players involved are LiAngelo Ball, younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.

Scott went on to extend his personal gratitude to President Donald Trump, who told reporters today that he had spoken directly to Chinese President Xi Jinping about shoplifting allegations against the players that forced them to stay behind in Hangzhou as their teammates moved on to Shanghai.

"We want to thank the president, the White House and the U.S. State Department for their efforts towards resolution," Scott said.

Without confirming any of the alleged crimes Chinese authorities lodged against the three players, the commissioner said their return home was gratifying.

"We are all very pleased that these young men have been allowed to return home to their families and university," he said, according to the statement.

ABC News confirmed earlier today, according to a source, that the three players cleared customs at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport at around 8 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET).

The three students checked out of the hotel where they’d been staying, the Hyatt Regency Hangzhou, since they were arrested and charged last Tuesday.

Police in Hangzhou accused freshmen them of committing theft of goods at a Louis Vuitton boutique.

The alleged shoplifting became a topic of conversation between Trump, who called the situation "unfortunate," and Chinese president Xi Jinping during Trump’s tour of Asia.

“President Xi has been terrific on that subject,” Trump said.

The men were released on bail early Wednesday morning, but were required to stay in their Hangzhou hotel until the legal process was over, ESPN reported.

ABC News' Tiffany Hsieh contributed to this report.

News - UCLA basketball players return to US after Chinese release them in shoplifting case

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  • Linda Stuteville

    These 3 thieves should be kicked off the team and if Steve Alford doesn't do it he is no better than they are. He was not raised that way. It looks terrible for the school and for him to have thieves playing for him. President Trump did them a favor and they should get down on their knees and thank him., and it is a big deal when you steal anything, although Mr. Ball doesn't think so. He thinks his sons are the best ballplayers ever. But who beat them last year.? He should have kept his big mouth shut. Why didn't he buy the sunglasses for them.? Probably couldn't afford them. This is very shameful for the school but what do they care. California is in such a mess with the governor they have . They are broke and it does not look like they will come out of it anyway soon.

  • PD

    If the Trump Administration did not intercede in their behalf, the press would have crushed him. Reports would read "Students Jailed In China Trump Does Nothing"

  • KSM

    The only reason trump intervened is for himself - his poll ratings are so low he tries to use situations to boost his low image with the public - he even had the stupidity to ask for a public thank you because of his narcissism.

  • KSM

    Who paid the bail ? for these so called basketball players with no moral or ethical standards.

  • Barry Love

    Totally convinced it's a genetic trait (theft) and can't be helped. An American citizen was just killed by communists just a few months back for stealing a poster off a wall and they still were not deterred. Unbelievable.

  • elcal

    They were practicing for their follow up careers. Couldn't even pass that test. Make these dumb arse's and their parents repay the CA taxpayers who fund the UC schools for the cost of their stupid choices.

  • jksu2

    They should be on their knees like Mr. Colin thanking the President. 5-10 years. If Mr. Trump is such a bigot/racist, why then did he intervene?

  • Thinkaboutit

    UCLA should address this the same as if they were shoplifting in the US. The price of the stolen items might have been in the felony range ($950). The CA statute is 16 months to 3 years in state prison.

  • TexasVulcan

    Way too many college athletes feel a sense of entitlement because they have a talent for basketball. Most will never make it to the pros. Many do not even graduate.

    Time for the NBA and the NFL to come up with their own minor leagues and let colleges go back to education.

  • Houston64

    I am confident that this will not be the last issue with the law that we here from these idiots.

  • KSM

    Of Course trump continues to act like a Moron trying to get credit for getting these guys released from China. trump has no values either and sets a poor example for all US Citizens and all people Globally. There is a difference between right and wrong - perhaps it is trump's low IQ that demonstrates over and over he can't make good decisions.

  • MissyT111

    If they take a knee, we should all line up to slap the brats

  • I want darwinism back

    Should have locked them all up. They won't learn from this at all. You should have seen the younger ball brothers parents and lanzo ball on local L.A. news just smug as he'll and know there won't be any consequences. Send em back lock them up,

  • Thomas

    I hope these criminals don't decide to write a book and profit even more from their embarrassing conduct.

  • Thomas

    So what are the chances these men learned their lesson and no longer thing they are above the law?

  • j penske

    If in fact they did shoplift, they should be facing some kind of disciplinary action by the coaching staff. But of course that's not going to happen. This is college basketball, so they will continue playing and get a slap on the wrist. This is a heck of an example for younger kids that look to these players as role models. A true shame and disgrace, all in the name of money.

  • Lifeishortgetaladder.

    UCLA; U Caught Lifting Again?
    Unshelving China of Lots'a Articles
    and my favorite.
    Under Cover Larceny Agents

  • luk_home

    politics is interesting. never what is done, who does it. basketball players, high profile case can get off, others can't. some mad at Trump, some not. Those mad at Trump for getting involved probably let Obama pass when he got involved with the boy with the clock. Obama should have left that be a local issue between the school and the boy and parents and not make the teacher who is not a bomb expert and has residual fears look like a fool. Not knowing all the details, perhaps Trump should have kept his nose out of it. but, we here on the ignorant end of the ladder can just do social media guessing and gossiping.

  • João Perreira

    These athletes are not only an embarrassment to the US, they're an embarrassment to their race.

  • E Sverdrup

    I don’t understand why college and professional sports continues to associate with criminal like behavior.

  • James Mason

    The Trumpster called the Xi Man and said "Look, this is just the way these people are. It's a real problem."

  • Prophet With Honor

    Geeze, THIS is the only result of a 12 day trip that cost the taxpayers tens of millions?

  • Blaize Rage

    Hopefully the University will boot them off the team.

  • Indy

    I wonder what this just cost America, considering the Don doesn't seem anywhere near as good at making deals, so unlike all the hype and advertising suggested throughout his campaign.

  • Ross Doob

    Good old "Tough on Crime" Trump assists shoplifters. That's the way to MAGA!

  • Chupacabra

    How embarrassing. You get a scholarship to UCLA and you go around stealing petty stuff? They should have left them in China to be punished.

  • troublemaker11

    Trump goes on a twelve day state visit and all who met with him laughed behind his back. But they didn't really know Donald Trump and his ability to make a deal. He couldn't make a deal with any of the countries he visited but he did make a deal in re three shoplifters. Way to go Donald. I have a speeding ticket that needs your deal making talents. BTW the ticket was issued in China ten years ago.

  • j penske

    They're lucky they weren't in NK. Lesson learned (maybe): don't shoplift, no matter where you are.

  • KSM

    These players should Not Be Allowed to play basketball and dismissed from the team. They are an embarrassment to the USA. If I discover there are no serious consequences for their behavior I will never pay for tickets to see any basketball games they are associated with nor watch any basketball on TV. How could they be so stupid. Oh that's the answer they all have low IQ's - morons.

  • Jacob Kopp

    once again our pres shows weakness and embarrasses us when he could have shown some character and made an example of them.On the other hand he stood true to what he said about China ripping us off. I guess we showed them!

  • Jesse Johnson

    Should have left them in China and let them deal with the consequences there. At the very least, should be dismissed from the team never to return. You think John Wooden would have put up with this kind of behavior?

  • Walking Fool

    I work with the China Chinese everyday. Some of them have never seen a black person, and some asked me if blacks were all criminals here, as portrayed in movies. I told them in movies, it's not real, but with these 3 thieves, I'm afraid they won't believe me now.

    It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

  • Feltois Young

    Congrats to the POTUS on his first accomplishment after 10 months on the job.

  • Tom Adams

    I guess they learned a valuable lesson. If you have important people on your side you can get away with doing things others would be punished for.

  • ShawnLetwin

    You see, China gets it. Black Lives Matter!

  • Keith Johnson

    I think if they are guilty, then they SHOULD be kicked off from the team! Plus! they made the US look bad! They are very lucky that china did not cut off their finger! ( For Sun Glasses! Really GUY"S! )

  • Nathan Broussard

    The hotel must have really searched them before they left, theft of towels, bathrobes, hotel items like books magazines and furniture is looked on very badly.

  • Dicazi

    Suspended from the team at least this season.
    If they've had no other discipline problems.

  • empirewacksback

    University of
    Children with

  • snowthrush

    One would think they should have learned a lesson from the student who died after N. Korea arrested him for taking a poster off of a wall. Chinese have video of the players shoplifting from three high end stores. These are the "elite" students in UCLA/NCAA basketball? Not young kids - supposedly adults? Big time sports are going downhill - NFL player's foolishness, Penn State hazing death and pedophelia - add on the concussions and brain disease in hockey and football...the media's presentation of athletes being "gods" in their pre-programs and sports lead in...I think the general, average citizen is just plain sick of it.

  • flatrock

    Someone in China really needs to leak the store video footage.

  • Mr. Logical

    In unrelated news, the U.S. has agreed to overlook fake Louis Vuitton apparel flooding world markets and not imprison or punish any of the intellectual property thieves who are quickly stealing everything the West has to offer.

  • Dave Park

    When liberals say something wrong, they have merely "mis-spoken", these three guys merely "mis--shopped". Now let's move forward.

  • Marco

    Everytime I hear a story like this, I wonder if one of the guilty, (if they are guilty) will Man-up, and admit their mistake. Of course, given the current US political atmosphere, I just expect more of "who, me?"

  • Dave Park

    These guys must have fallen way behind in their school work

  • alphafemale

    Who goes to a foreign country and steals from a high end store...3 special idiots.

  • Planet Earth

    An embarrassment to us abroad and especially to the university. NBA teams go to China every offseason for global outreach and goodwill, then these NCAA tools go an ruin that because they want some designer sunglasses for free. Should have put them in jail there, even if for just a few days. They will have learned absolutely nothing from this.

  • wileythruster

    They'll be home in time to take a knee during the next anthem performance.

  • paddyk

    I am sure LeVar Ball has already scheduled talk show appearances and interviews to try and use this to peddle his new line of s**tty $500 shoes.

  • dale frederich

    I hope we didn't have to trade them for Gitmo prisoners

  • Bob Carroll

    They should be checked off the team. UCLA used to be an elite school now they are training Felon's. Preparing for the NBA. Thank's to the Chinese Police.

  • Blaize Rage

    Should have kept them in jail for a month and than release them.

  • Get_Down

    In a communist country, like the PROC, especially when its president took a wink, a nod, three words "Let them go" at his staff - that becomes law and will be implemented at a NY minute...It is absolutely to Trump's credit...Alone, that these three American thieves were set free...Back to the USA. Shame on the three...thieves!

  • jayk

    Those three don't have one working brain between them. It would be a good lesson for them if they had to spend a year in a Chinese prison, what morons.

  • Nathan Broussard

    Three distinct possibilities, one they booked an optional excursion of Pyongyang North Korea, second, they were moved to a Chinese jail, or the third, they were put on a plan departing for the United States and told never to return.