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While visiting Beijing last week as part of a five-nation Asia tour, President Donald Trump personally asked his Chinese counterpart to help resolve a situation involving LiAngelo Ball and two other UCLA teammates who had been arrested for shoplifting, according to a report in The Washington Post on Monday.
Ball, the brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, and teammates Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were accused of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store near their hotel in Hangzhou, China, and subsequently allowed to return to their hotel, according to ESPN.
The Post reported that Trump personally spoke about the situation with Chinese president Xi Jinping, who promised to “ensure the players would be treated fairly and expeditiously.”
In interviews last week, law professors who specialize in Chinese law told USA TODAY Sports that they did not expect the players to face severe punishment in China as a result of the incident, citing Trump’s visit to the country as one helpful factor.
UCLA was in China to play Georgia Tech in this year’s Pac-12 China game, which the Bruins won, 63-60.
Ball, Hill and Riley did not participate in the game, nor return home with the team on its scheduled return flight. The Los Angeles Times reported that the three players were still in their hotel Monday, accompanied by a spokesperson who told the newspaper that they are “doing fine.”
UCLA did not respond to an e-mail from USA TODAY Sports seeking comment Monday morning.
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