UPDATE (10:45 a.m. ET): Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott in a statement Tuesday confirmed the release of UCLA basketball players LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley.
ORIGINAL STORY: Consider the international crisis averted.
LiAngelo Ball and two other members of the UCLA men’s basketball team have been allowed to return home from China after being arrested on shoplifting charges, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday morning.
Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were spotted Tuesday night (local time) at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport checking onto a flight bound for Los Angeles, airline staff told the Wall Street Journal. Mark Dreyer of China Sports Insider also reported the trio has been released from Chinese custody.
The teammates’ return pretty much is a best-case scenario for Ball and Co., who were arrested last Tuesday for allegedly shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou last week. It was reported that the three UCLA players could serve up to 10 years in prison, but instead, they only stayed an extra few days in a luxury hotel before departing Tuesday evening.
Their release comes shortly after President Donald Trump reached out to Chinese president Xi Jinping asking him to help resolve the players’ legal cases. It’s unclear what direct role Trump played in the players being freed, but the president told reporters in Asia he had a “great conversation” with Xi Jinping about the players.
LaVar Ball, the (very) outspoken father of LiAngelo, high school basketball star LaMelo Ball and Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, has yet to comment on his middle son’s release, but we’re sure it’s only a matter of time.
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