Remember when UCLA freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were arrested in China on shoplifting charges, and the rest of the basketball world stopped for days while everyone from LaVar Ball to Donald Trump tried to get them home? The UCLA saga in China started on November 5, just four months ago, but it feels like a decade has past in Internet Years.
LaVar Ball has since pulled LaMelo Ball out of Chino Hills High School. LiAngelo Ball never went back to UCLA, and the two youngest Ball brothers are gallivanting around Lithuania selling Big Baller Brand water, and dominating whatever bizarre Big Baller Brand league they fabricated. It’s been a wild ride, to say the least.
Meanwhile, the 2017-18 college basketball season is coming to an end, and with UCLA fighting for a spot in the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament this month, ESPN’s Arash Markazi dropped the definitive story on what actually happened to LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley in China last November.
Markazi was able to find out just what Ball, Hill, and Riley stole, too. It was originally reported that they stole sunglasses from Louis Vuitton. That’s true, but Markazi also details other knick knacks the UCLA freshmen stole to make this escapade even more foolish than you thought.
Ball, Riley and Hill left the store [Louis Vuitton] and talked outside before re-entering a few minutes later. The players returned to the second floor, and each took a pair of glasses and exited without paying. The trio then walked across Pinghai Road to a mall with more affordable retail stores such as Uniqlo, Zara and H&M and took more sunglasses, these of the $15 variety, from a local boutique store before walking into H&M and snagging a 5-pack of beaded bracelets retailing for $6. When Ball, Riley and Hill made the short walk around the street corner back to the Hyatt, the three freshmen had shoplifted from three stores in a span of 90 minutes.
The next morning, the police arrived at the Hyatt where both UCLA and Georgia Tech were staying. After some confusion, authorities determined that Ball, Hill, and Riley were the culprits because Louis Vuitton security cameras caught them in the act. According to Markazi, the UCLA trio were hesitant to admit any wrongdoing until they found out about the security footage.
“Ball eventually admitted to taking the glasses, which were still in his room. Hill also admitted to the theft and had the glasses inside his backpack. Riley, while being questioned inside [Head Coach] Alford’s room, at some point managed to take the glasses from inside the pocket of his hoodie and shove them between couch cushions.”
Shortly after questioning, all three players were arrested and taken to a nearby police station. Ball, Hill, and Riley were stuck in a holding cell for 24 hours before they were driven back to Louis Vuitton to return what was stolen. With Riley hiding his stolen goods in Alford’s room, he was driven back to the hotel, and then to Louis Vuitton, but the story doesn’t end there. What about the cheap glasses and the beaded bracelets? We’ll get there.
“The police were basically wrapping up everything in terms of the investigation and paper work,” one school source told Markazi. “It was three teenagers making one big, dumb mistake. And just when we thought it was over, we find out about the second store, and then we find out about the third store.”
Ball, Hill, and Riley were driven back to each store to return all the stolen items, but by this point, UCLA officials were fairly certain that this was going to be resolved soon. Based on Markazi’s report, it doesn’t sound like anyone was seriously worried about a long-term stay in Chinese prison. This was around the time LaVar Ball famously told reporters; “He’ll be fine. He’ll be fine. It ain’t that big of a deal.” So in a legal sense, LaVar Ball was right.
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