The three UCLA basketball players who were arrested for shoplifting last week remained in China as of Tuesday, and reports have indicated that they could be punished with anything from a slap on the wrist to jail time.
UCLA players LiAngelo Ball - the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie star Lonzo Ball - and teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were on a flight to Los Angeles, the commissioner of the Pacific-12 conference, Larry Scott, said in a statement. But Trump said Tuesday that he had asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help.
"The players were questioned last week 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".
The UCLA men's basketball team had already returned to the US without the three freshmen athletes. The incident was a major embarrassment to UCLA and the Pac-12, both of whom are attempting to grow their respective brands in China.
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UCLA's trip coincided with Trump's two-day state visit to the Chinese capital, Beijing, as part of his 13-day trip to Asia.
Trump had raised the issue with Xi during a dinner held during the US leader's November 8 to 10 state visit to Beijing.
"The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities" and the trio were allowed to leave Hangzhou, where they were detained a week ago, Scott said.
Scott thanked Trump, the White House and the State Department for their assistance in resolving the case.
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Trump's request was first reported by the Washington Post.
The three basketball players from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) were detained by police on November 7 in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou over allegations of shoplifting. The teams had travelled to Hangzhou earlier in the week to visit the headquarters of the game's sponsor, Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
The game was the culmination of a weeklong cultural and sports exchange involving the student athletes.
The elder Ball has become a media personality by aggressively promoting his sons as future National Basketball Association superstars and had travelled to China on the trip to promote his Big Baller Brand shoe and apparel line.
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