UCLA freshman LiAngelo Ball was reportedly arrested in China earlier this week and that news spread like wildfire given the immense platform curated by his father, LaVar Ball, and his entire family. While it would be noteworthy for any trio of college basketball players to be arrested on a trip before playing a major conference clash to open the season, this particular incident has a number of layers.
On Tuesday evening, word broke that one layer is potentially devastating for Ball and UCLA teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo reports that the three youngsters could be facing up to ten years in prison if convicted of shoplifting and the piece cites a “lawyer familiar with Chinese law” as the central source. Beyond that, Yahoo’s reporting indicates that there could be a lengthy period of time between the actual arrest and any formal charge or indictment, citing precedent of defendants having to wait more than 30 days as authorities evaluate options.
The lengthy prison time is, of course, a doomsday scenario but the mere thought of the UCLA players having to wait for prosecutorial decisions to be made while in China is troubling in itself. Yahoo indicates that laws on the books in China place a 3-to-10 year prison sentence for those convicted of “robbing public or private property using force, coercion or other methods.”
It is important to note that, at this point, there are few details as to what Ball and his teammates are even being accused of in conjunction with the incident and more information would go a long way toward informing what might happen next. Still, there could be additional light shed in the coming hours, as LaVar Ball is reportedly set to address the media in the near future.
LiAngelo Ball may not actually serve a ten-year prison sentence (or any prison sentence at all), but the simple reality of that as an option takes this story to another level entirely.