Donald Trump is trying to do what the UCLA men’s basketball team couldn’t do: take its Ball and go home.
The White House confirmed Monday via e-mail the U.S. President has asked his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to help resolve the legal cases involving UCLA’s LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, according to The Washington Post’s David Nakamura. Hangzhou, China, police arrested the three Bruins last week on shoplifting charges, and they didn’t fly home with the rest of the team. Xi promised the players will receive fair treatment and their cases would be handled hastily, Nakamura reports, citing an anonymous U.S. official.
Ball and Co. have been released on bail and are staying in the hotel while authorities investigate the shoplifting incident. Chinese lawyers told Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel last week the UCLA basketball players could serve between three and 10 years in prison, but the U.S. official told Nakamura their charges have been reduced.
Citing sources familiar with the situation, ESPN’s Arash Markazi reported Saturday the UCLA basketball players are expected to remain in China for “a week or two.”
Ball, the second son of outspoken and high-profile sports dad, LaVar Ball, is set to begin his freshman season at UCLA. The Los Angeles Lakers selected his brother, Lonzo Ball, with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Once the UCLA basketball players’ legal cases are resolved and they return to the United States, Trump likely will tell the world about his role in accelerating the timeline for their release.
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