An international trip that was supposed to be a cultural experience to start the season for the UCLA basketball team reportedly turned ugly Tuesday when three freshmen, including Lonzo Ball’s brother LiAngelo, were arrested for shoplifting by police in Hangzhou, China.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman first reported the arrests, citing sources, but since that report, both UCLA and the commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference, to which UCLA belongs, have released statements on the matter without confirming specifics. LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were charged, and released from jail by Hangzhou police around 4 a.m. Wednesday for stealing from a Louis Vuitton store located next to the team’s hotel, according to another ESPN report.
“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, “We are very disappointed by any situation that detracts from the positive student-athlete educational and cultural experience that this week is about. Whether in the United States or abroad, we expect our student-athletes to uphold the highest standards,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
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Lavar Ball, the outspoken father of Lonzo and LiAngelo, told ESPN initially that the arrests “ain’t that big a deal.” However, Yahoo Sports reported that if convicted, the trio could face three to 10 years in Chinese prison.
Lavar Ball later amended his initial statement, saying “It is a very unfortunate situation that the Ball Family, and UCLA has to deal with at this particular time. We will comment shortly.”
UCLA coach Steve Alford told the Associated Press that the three individuals involved would not join the team in UCLA’s game Saturday in Shanghai against Georgia Tech. ESPN reported that LiAngelo Ball, Riley and Hill were being required by authorities to stay at the team hotel in Hangzhou until the legal process is completed.
Lonzo Ball was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers after starring for UCLA in his freshman season. Lavar Ball has put his three sons at the center of his clothing brand Big Baller Brand, and has often made wild claims about himself and publicly predicted success for his sons at the professional level. LiAngelo Ball is considered a less-heralded prospect than Lonzo, and plays shooting guard for UCLA.