The three UCLA basketball stars who were detained in China for shoplifting have been released following reports that President Trump asked for President Xi Jinping’s help.
LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill arrived at the Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday evening from Shanghai, where they were swarmed by press and paparazzi as they walked through the airport terminal. Despite questions from the crowd, they declined to comment and remained silent.
At this time, it’s unclear whether the players were released due to of lack of evidence or if a deal was struck between Trump and Xi.
“What they did was unfortunate,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday. “You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. … They do not play games.”
Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2017
The players held a press conference on Wednesday morning to apologize for their actions and also thanked Trump for his help and the fair treatment they received in China.
“We’re young men, however, it’s not an excuse for making a really stupid decision,” Ball said during the conference. “I don’t feel sorry for myself and I’ve learned my lesson from this big mistake and I’m 110 percent sure that I’m not making a bad decision like this one again.”
“We really appreciate you helping us out,” Riley said of President Trump in the video.
The players admitted guilt and charges were dropped by Chinese authorities. They also had to pay a $2,200 bail, surrender their passports, and agree to travel restrictions, according to UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero.
All three players have been suspended indefinitely; UCLA has pledged to continue their investigation into the incident. “We’re very disappointed in the conduct of our three student-athletes.” Guerrero said. “They know they made a huge mistake and as you can see they’re deeply sorry for it.”
Feature Image via YouTube / DDTV