UCLA players suspended after shoplifting incident

By The Sports Xchange  |  Nov. 15, 2017 at 4:26 PM
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UCLA freshmen basketball players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were suspended indefinitely by the school on Wednesday after returning from China where they were held last week for shoplifting.

UCLA coach Steve Alford said at a news conference Wednesday that the trio will not take part in practice or games while the school performs a review of the situation.

"They will have to earn their way back," Alford said. "These are good young men who have exercised an inexcusable lapse of judgment, and now they have to live with that."

Ball, Riley and Hill delivered statements to the media at the news conference about the incident that had them required to stay behind in China for a few days after the team returned to Los Angeles.

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said at the end of the news conference that the players each admitted guilt and the charges were withdrawn by Chinese authorities. They paid $2,200 bail, surrendered passports and agreed to travel restrictions.

"We're very disappointed in the conduct of our three student-athletes," Guerrero said. "They know they made a huge mistake and as you can see they're deeply sorry for it."

The trio created an international incident that eventually saw President Trump, while visiting Beijing last week as part of a five-nation Asia tour, personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help resolve the case.

The players arrived back in Los Angeles from Shanghai on Tuesday evening, ending a week-long ordeal.

"I want to start off by saying how ashamed and embarrassed I am," Riley said at the news conference, taking full responsibility for shoplifting.

Riley thanked Trump for intervening on the players' behalf.

"We really appreciate you helping us out," Riley said in his statement. "I can only hope that my actions, my words and my hard work in the weeks to come will show that I am capable of meeting that high standard. I can assure you that I will never do anything again to jeopardize UCLA's reputation or that of my own."

Ball, the brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, was next to speak and apologized for stealing and to the people of China.

"We're young men, but it's not an excuse for making a really stupid decision," said Ball, who also thanked Trump and the U.S. government for intervening.

"I'm extremely sorry for those I let down."

Hill apologized to UCLA fans, saying: "I feel like my actions have hurt them the most. What I did was stupid. There's no other way to put it and I am not that kind of person."

Before the news conference, Trump tweeted Wednesday morning: "Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!"

Ball, Riley and Hill were questioned last Tuesday about allegedly stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team's hotel in Hangzhou, where the Bruins had been staying before leaving for Shanghai to face Georgia Tech on Saturday. UCLA won 63-60 in its opening game without the three freshmen.

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