UCLA Players Suspended Indefinitely, Thank Trump

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UCLA basketball players on a trip in China were allegedly caught shoplifting in a Louis Vuitton store. The players have returned safely to the United States but will not be playing any time soon due to their actions.

According to ESPN, freshmen players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were suspended indefinitely by head coach Steve Alford. They will not be suiting up, traveling, or participating in UCLA Athletics while the administration looks into the situation.

"They will have to earn their way back," Alford said at a press conference Nov. 15.

UCLA was in Hangzhou, China, to face Georgia Tech. UCLA won 63 to 60 and afterward, the players entered a Louis Vuitton store near their hotel and allegedly stole sunglasses. They were detained on Nov. 7, reports Reuters, and were facing shoplifting charges.

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero paid $2,200 to have all three players released. Guerrero told Reuters that Chief of Staff John Kelly had contacted the players to let them know the government was working on their release, after which Chinese Foreign Ministry officials said their case had been resolved, reports Reuters.

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President Donald Trump also spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the situation, and later said the players should be grateful.

“Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” he wrote on Twitter.

According to Trump's statement, the players were saved jail time due to the government's involvement in the matter. Guerrero told Reuters that the items had been taken from three different stores -- they went through the luggage of both UCLA and Georgia Tech before they found the stolen items.

At the press conference, all three players, the head coach, and the athletic director expressed gratitude, both to Trump and the U.S. government for intervening on their behalf and saving them from some serious jail time.

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Ball, brother of famous Los Angeles Laker Lonzo Ball, said that this does not define who he is, and that his family raised him to know better than to steal. 

According to Alford, the players may be allowed to return to practices and workouts, but that timeline still has yet to be established. For the time being, they are suspended indefinitely. This means no traveling with the team or suiting up for practices until the situation is fully investigated by the educational institution.  

Sources: ESPN, Reuters / Featured Image: Anna Majkowska/Flickr / Embedded Images: Achim Hepp/Flickr, Neon Tommy/Flickr

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