UCLA Basketball Players Held In China After Being Accused Of Stealing Sunglasses

“The kids were scared,” a source told ESPN.

By Sowmya Krishnamurthy

Three UCLA basketball players are being held in China for allegedly shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou. As The Washington Post reports, LiAngelo Ball, the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers' Lonzo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill are still being held in a Chinese luxury hotel after they were arrested this week.

The three players were in China to play Georgia Tech on Friday. Details around the arrest remain unclear. In a statement, the State Department told The Washington Post that it's aware of reports of the three US citizens being arrested in China and released on bail: "We stand ready to provide appropriate consular assistance for US citizens. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment.‎”

UCLA Coach Steve Alford has confirmed that the three players will not play in Friday's game. 

“We are aware of a situation involving UCLA student-athletes in Hangzhou, China,” UCLA Athletics said in a statement. “The University is cooperating fully with local authorities on this matter, and we have no further comment at this time.”

An unnamed source told ESPN that police came to the team hotel early Tuesday morning to apprehend the student-athletes. They were reportedly accused of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store that is next to the hotel. 

“They weren’t messing around,” the source shared. “The kids were scared.”

Washington Post correspondent Simon Denyer explained that a person who takes goods worth between 1,000 yuan ($150) and 2,500 yuan ($380), could face a maximum sentence of six months, but could also get only a fine. Stealing anything between 7,000 and 10,000 yuan ($1,050 to $1,510) would be punished with jail time.

ESPN shares that the players will not be allowed to leave the hotel in Hangzhou until the legal process is over. Other reports share that the players could get 20 days of house arrest (in their luxury hotel) and ordered not to return to the country.

LaVar Ball, the father of the Ball athlete family, isn't worried.

“I’m going to wait until I get more intel on what’s going on,” he said per ESPN. “He’ll be fine. Everyone’s making it a big deal. It ain’t that big a deal.”

 [Photo: UCLA]

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