UCLA players apologize for shoplifting in China, thank Trump

"Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump?" he tweeted.

It was not clear whether the resolution of the case in China came as a result of insufficient evidence or a negotiated deal involving President Trump, who intervened on the players' behalf last week with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

The flight is en route to Los Angeles.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, who had not spoken with the three players, said what had occurred was a "very regrettable situation".

Riley, Hill and Ball were arrested on suspicion of shoplifting from three high-end stores in a shopping center next to the team's hotel in Hangzhou but were released on bail November 8.

Tuesday evening saw the players making their way through a media scrum after landing at Los Angeles International Airport.

An anonymous US official told The Washington Post that after Trump brought the situation up, Xi said he would ensure fair treatment and expeditious legal processing for the players. The President followed up by pointing out that these players could have gone to jail for a very long time.

"Trump learned about the details of the case from aides, including [Chief of Staff John] Kelly, said the official familiar with the internal discussions".

"Before I thank everybody who worked so incredibly hard helping us returning home safely, I want to thank the Chinese government and the police for taking care of us". According to a blog that specializes in decoding the Chinese criminal justice system, the players could have received prison sentences of anywhere between one and four years under the worst-case scenario, punishment that likely would have been mitigated by the players' ages and the fact that they appeared to be cooperating with authorities. "They (the Chinese) do not play games".

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement that the university's Athletics and Office of Student Conduct would review the incident and determine any potential discipline.

The 3 UCLA players are likely to be punished by UCLA in the near future.

A contrite Riley and Hill expressed similar sentiments.

  • Tracy Klein