Investigation Finds Trump’s Involvement May Not Have Helped LiAngelo Ball, Teammates in China

The UCLA shoplifting case was reportedly resolved before the president got involved.

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)

On November 16 of last year, President Trump tweeted “You’re Welcome” to then-UCLA basketball players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill, presumably with regard to his involvement in getting them back home safe after they were caught shoplifting in China.

Although at the time the trio did publicly voice their gratitude to Trump for his help, it appears they may have actually had no reason to thank him, according to a new report from ESPN.

As the story had previously been told, the players were under house arrest when they were told by White House chief of staff John Kelly that Trump had intervened on their behalf while he was meeting with President Xi Jinping. According to what a UCLA team source told ESPN, that timeline and the impact of Trump’s supposed involvement in the situation is a bit murky.

“The players were already checked into the hotel before the public discovered they were arrested,” a team source said. “They also were not under house arrest. It was our decision to keep them at the hotel until the situation was resolved. The charges were dropped, they weren’t reduced, and that happened two days before we heard from Gen. Kelly.”

Perhaps, at least in this instance, LaVar Ball was right.

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