Sports | November 16, 2017 9:29 am

UCLA Players Suspended for China Incident, Thank President Trump

The three freshmen were arrested in China on suspicion of shoplifting.

UCLA players
LiAngelo Ball and Cody Riley (L) of the UCLA Men's Basketball team speak to the media during a press conference at Pauley Pavilion on November 15, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

Three UCLA basketball players who were arrested in China on suspicion of shoplifting spoke with the media for the first time since they returned home. ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura report that all three players thanked President Donald Trump and the United States government for helping handle the situation, according to Bleacher Report

Earlier that day, Trump had tweeted, asking if  LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill would thank his efforts with the Chinese government and authorities.

UCLA head coach Steve Alford announced that the three freshmen players have been suspended indefinitely and will not travel with the team, according to Bleacher Report. 

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero confirmed that the three players stole merchandise from three different stores.

“I’m a young man; however, it’s not an excuse for making a really stupid decision,” said Ball, reports Bleacher Report. 

Guerrero also said that the charges against Ball, Riley and Hill were withdrawn, but they did admit to being guilty, Bleacher Report says.

The team was in China for a game against Georgia Tech on Saturday, which the Bruins won, 63-60. Chinese law called for penalties between three and 10 years in prison for anyone convicted of “robbing public or private property using force, coercion, or other methods,” reports Bleacher Report. The players were deported from Shanghai and sent back to Los Angeles on Tuesday. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement that “the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities,” according to Bleacher Report.