The story around the arrest of LiAngelo Ball and two other UCLA players took what was at once a surprising, yet almost predictable turn, on Monday, as president Donald Trump became involved in the whole ordeal.
Ball and his two other UCLA teammates, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, were arrested for shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou last week. The three players have since been held at the hotel while the legal process shakes out, remaining in China while the rest of the team has flown home.
The most recent report stated they were likely facing 20 days’ house arrest, to be served at the hotel, before being sent home and banned from returning to the country. Now, it appears as though part of the impetus behind expediting said legal process has been a conversation between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping during his state visit to Beijing last week.
The news was broken by the Washington Post, who confirmed with the White House that Trump had brought up the arrests on his visit.
President Trump personally asked his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to help resolve the case of three UCLA men’s basketball players who were arrested for shoplifting while in Hangzhou for a tournament last week, people familiar with the situation said Monday.
After Trump raised the matter, Xi promised to look into the case and ensure the players would be treated fairly and expeditiously, said a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. Chief of Staff John F. Kelly has been in touch with the families of the players and spoken with UCLA Coach Steve Alford, and Kelly remains in contact with Chinese authorities, the official added. This official indicated that charges against the players have been reduced and that the case is proceeding toward a resolution.
It is both incredible and at the same time almost unsurprising in this absurd year that the President of the United States would need to get involved in a story involving the Ball family and an international incident. Hopefully the Post‘s report is accurate and the entire situation is nearing a resolution that can put the whole thing in the past.