Three UCLA basketball players including LiAngelo Ball were arrested in China just days before Friday’s season-opening game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai, according to ESPN.
LiAngelo is the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball. He was arrested with teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill on shoplifting charges. The three players were questioned by police about stealing from a Louis Vuitton store that is located next to the team’s hotel in Hangzhou.
“We are aware of a situation involving UCLA student-athletes in Hangzhou, China,” UCLA said in a statement. “The University is cooperating fully with local authorities on this matter, and we have no further comment at this time.”
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the conference is still investigating what happened — but they are very disappointed with the situation.
“We are very disappointed by any situation that detracts from the positive student-athlete educational and cultural experience that this week is about,” Scott said. “Whether in the United States or abroad, we expect our student-athletes to uphold the highest standards. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
Whats going on though, LiAngelo? We all know the big-baller Ball’s have plenty of money. LiAngelo’s family — including his father LaVar, his mother Tina and brother LaMelo accompanied him on the trip to Shanghai.
LaVar was supposed to address the media from his hotel suite Wednesday morning but he was advised by his counsel to not speak “due to the legal nature of the matter.”
As LaVar was leaving the hotel later Wednesday, he said: “I’m going to wait until I get some more intel on what’s going on, and then I can tell you what’s up.”
LaVar later released a statement about LiAngelo’s shoplifting allegations: “It is a very unfortunate situation that the Ball family and UCLA has to deal with at this particular time. We will comment shortly.”
According to sources, LiAngelo and his teammates were very cooperative and respectful while being questioned by police.
“The players were treated with the utmost respect, kindness and professionalism at all times by the Hangzhou police,” the source, who had firsthand knowledge of the release, told ESPN. “The players questioned were respectful at all times. None of this was confrontational.”
The players were questioned for a number of hours but were released around 4 a.m. Wednesday. UCLA representatives, including coach Steve Alford, were at the police station along with the players.
Furthermore, Hangzhou police advised the players to remain at the hotel until the legal process is over, the source said.
As for LaVar, he seems fairly confident that everything will be okay. When asked if he was worried about LiAngelo, LaVar said, “He’ll be fine. He’ll be fine. Everybody making it a big deal. It ain’t that big of a deal.”
Did you expect anything less from LaVar? He always sticks up for his family.
However, things could get serious for LiAngelo. According to Yahoo Sports, Chinese law calls for a fine and between three to 10 years in prison for anyone convicted of “robbing public or private property using force, coercion, or other methods.”
According to William Nee, a Hong Kong-based researcher of the Chinese court system, the United States consulate can work closely with local attorneys, and may be able to get a resolution to their case sooner. However, nothing is certain under the Chinese system.
“I would say they could be in quite a bit of trouble if they have solid proof that they shoplifted,” Nee told Yahoo Sports. “However, part of it will depend on whether their lawyers, the university or the U.S. consulate can advocate and negotiate on their behalf.”
As of right now, it is unclear what proof the authorities have on LiAngelo and his teammates. .